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The Early Edition: January 5, 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

“Twitter should not be a tool for foreign policy.” China berated President-elect Donald Trump for his use of Twitter to conduct international diplomacy via its official news agency Xinhua, CNN’s Katie Hunt reports.

Businessman William Hagerty is Donald Trump’s planned pick for US ambassador to Japan, Reuters reports.

Security, construction and maintenance funds for US embassies worldwide would be cut in half until the president transferes the embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem under the legislation introduced by three Republican Sens., Zaid Jilani explains at The Intercept.

Trump has taken 15 new policy stances on nine different issues since being elected as US president, including on NATO. Jane C. Timm at NBC News tracks these policy pronouncements.

When it comes to Russia, Trump and his party are “not even close to being on the same page,” Trump’s expressions of admiration for Putin and refusal to accept intelligence community findings that Russia hacked the DNC during the election campaign putting him at odds with almost every other Republican in Washington D.C., Mara Liasson writes at NPR.

Will incoming president Donald Trump see Russian President Putin’s “asymmetrical diplomacy” for what it is? Jill Dougherty writes at CNN.

The incoming Trump administration creates an opportunity to “rebuild the Middle East” after US retreat from the region under President Obama, suggests Muhammad al Misned writing at the Wall Street Journal.

It is important that we hear what Trump has to say about Philippine President Duterte’s claim that he encouraged him to keep up his war on drug users, which has killed almost 6,000 people in the last six months, argues Aryeh Neier writing at the Hill.

RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE in the US ELECTION

Congress begins its Russian hacking probe today with Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, NSA Director Mike Rogers and Undersecretary of Defense for Intellgence Marcel Lettre due to appear before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Dustin Volz reports at Reuters.

Intelligence agencies will brief President Obama on their report on Russia’s role in the hacking of US presidential elections since 2008 this afternoon, with an unclassified version of the report being made public Monday, ABC News Justin Fishel and Mike Levine report.

The FBI never examined the D.N.C.’s computer servers during its investigation into Russian attempts to interfere in the presidential election, Ali Watkins reports at Buzzfeed.

Trump’s apparent support for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s assertion that Russia was not behind the interference in the US election via twitter yesterday morning has alienated leading Republicans, Julian Borger writes reports at the Guardian.

Trump’s transition team are trying to keep a lid on the war brewing among them over how do deal with Russia and President Putin, writes Bryan Bender at POLITICO.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) would have trouble supporting President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet if they reject the intelligence community’s findings on Russian hacking, he told CNN’s “At This Hour” yesterday.

Some Republicans, including Trump, are inexplicably determined to bury the story of an unprecedented intrusion into US democracy by a foreign power, observes the Washington Post editorial board, advising the President-elect to listen to the intelligence community briefing on Russian interference in the election campaign if it is held as planned tomorrow.

What are the motives behind Trump’s professions of doubt over Russian interference in the US election? Bret Stephens considers this question at the Wall Street Journal, urging the President-elect to tell us what he knows about his Russia ties that the rest of us still don’t.

From pariah to paragon. Following Trump’s tweeted support of Julian Assange yesterday morning, David Weigel and Joby Warrick examine how the WikiLeaks’ founders images has evolved in the eyes of Republicans in recent times at the Washington Post.

The long US record as a world leader in foreign interference – far more extensive than election hacking – is as much of an outrage as the possibility that Russia interfered with the presidential election, and the day that all such interference is seen as a “democratic outrage” will be a great day indeed, writes Owen Jones at the Guardian.

The hyped – and quickly proven unfounded – accusations of Kremlin-backed hacking of the US electric grid via a Vermont power company risks undermining the Obama administration’s efforts to press its election-hacking accusations against Russia, write Cory Bennett and Eric Geller at POLITICO.

SYRIA

The Russia-Turkey brokered ceasefire in Syria is “humiliating” and a “big mistake,” the al-Qaeda-linked group Fatah al-Sham Front – excluded under the terms of the agreement – said. [AP]

The assault on Islamic State-held al-Bab will be “finished soon” following the most intense bombardment by Turkey in the four-month operation, Turkey said yesterday. Martin Chulov reports at the Guardian.

There is a sense of optimism in Aleppo now that the guns have fallen silent, even though the combat damage in formerly rebel-held parts of the city is enormous, senior UN official Sajjad Malik said yesterday, Edith M. Lederer reporting at the AP.

IRAQ

US troops entered the city of Mosul to support Iraqi troops fighting there, the Pentagon confirmed yesterday, Ben Kesling reporting at the Wall Street Journal.

An Islamic State-claimed car bomb in eastern Baghdad killed six civilians today, Reuters reports.

US-led airstrikes continue. US and coalition forces carried out 21 airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on Jan. 3. Separately, partner forces conducted six strikes against targets in Iraq. [Central Command]

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a pardon for Elor Azaria, convicted of manslaughter yesterday for shooting dead a wounded Palestinian in occupied West Bank last March, the BBC reports.

Two people were arrested today for inciting violence on social media against the three military judges who convicted Azaria, Israeli police said today. [Reuters’ Jeffrey Heller]

The controversy over Azaria’s case stems from the fact that a large portion of the Israeli public seems to believe that he was right to have shot the wounded Palestinian who no longer posed a threat, suggests the Economist.

CHINA

China and the US should develop ties in the proper direction, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi told Secretary of State John Kerry today, amid unease in Beijing over President-elect Donald Trump’s recent comments on Taiwan and trade, Reuters reports.

China has threatened some of South Korea’s biggest companies in retaliation for their government’s decision to deploy a US ballistic missile shield, Charles Clover and Song Jung-a report at the Financial Times.

TURKEY

The US-led coalition’s continuing presence at Turkey’s Incirlik airbase is on the government’s agenda, Deputy Prime Minister Veysi Kaynak said today. [Reuters]

Turkish police conducted further raids on the outskirts of Istanbul today in their hunt for the gunman responsible for the New Year’s eve attack on a nightclub in the capital, detaining several people, the AP’s Dusan Stojanovic reports.

EUROPE

An acquaintance of suspected Berlin Christmas market attacker Anis Amri who dined with him the night before the attack was arrested by investigators, German prosecutors confirmed yesterday. Geir Moulson reports at the AP.

Security fears in the wake of the Berlin attack have prompted a change in the time-honored tradition of the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace in London, which will now take place on fixed days – Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays – rather than alternate days from August to March, the Press Association reports.

NORTH KOREA

North Korea is capable of fulfilling its threat to develop intercontinental missiles this year, weapons experts warned. Julian Borger reports at the Guardian.

Stopping North Korea from developing intercontinental nuclear weapons may involve working with China, or negotiating with the regime itself – both of which strategies have been tried unsuccessfully by previous US administrations, writes the Washington Post editorial board.

A special military brigade tasked with removing North Korea’s leadership in the event of war will be formed by South Korea as it searches for options to counter its neighbor’s nuclear missiles, an official told Kim Tong-Hyung at the AP yesterday.

GUANTANAMO BAY

Four detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility will be transfered to Saudi Arabia, US officials confirmed, the transfers due to take place in the next 24 hours. [The Hill’s Evelyn Rupert]

CYBERSECURITY, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY

A further 112 of the 15,000 Hillary Clinton emails discovered by the FBI during its investigation into the former secretary of State’s personal email server were released yesterday, the Hill’s Katie Bo Williams reports.

“Tor IP addresses” used by many of Micah Lee’s regular readers are listed on the Russian cyberattack list in the Grizzly Steppe report released at the end of last year –  the “gaping weakness” in the report, lee writes at The Intercept.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

A rival Libyan general attacked an air base under the control of the UN-backed government, Libyan officials said yesterday, Rami Musa reporting at the AP.

An investigation into allegations of an insult of Indonesian state ideology has been launched, Australia said today in an attempt to calm tensions between the two nations a day after Indonesia’s announcement that it will suspend military cooperation with its neighbor, Kristen Gelineau reports at the AP.

Three child suicide-bombers were killed as they attempted to target a busy market in northeastern Nigeria yesterday, civilian and military officials blaming Boko Haram for the incident. Ibrahim Abdulaziz reports at the AP.

Two UN peacekeepers were killed in an ambush on a convoy in southeastern Central African Republic yesterday, the UN News Centre reports.

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About the Author

is the Assistant News Editor at Just Security. She is also Legal Researcher at UK-based human rights organization, JUSTICE.