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The Early Edition: October 9, 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.

NORTH KOREA

North Korea has historically made “fools of U.S. negotiators” and “only one thing will work!” President Trump said in a series of tweets on Saturday, declining to elaborate on the comments when asked on Saturday evening what he meant, telling reporters that “you’ll figure that out pretty soon.” Jenna Johnson reports at the Washington Post.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un celebrated his country’s nuclear weapons program as a “powerful deterrent” to the U.S., the state K.C.N.A. news agency reported Kim as saying at the weekend, the comments were reported a few hours after Trump’s tweet that “only one thing will work” to rein in the Pyongyang regime. Choe Sang-Hun reports at the New York Times.

Kim entrenched his family’s grip on power by promoting his younger sister to a key position overseeing policy at the weekend, the announcement coming amid speculation that Pyongyang will launch a series of missiles tomorrow to mark the 72nd anniversary of the founding of North Korea’s Worker’s Party. Anna Fifield reports at the Washington Post.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated his government’s support for the U.S. approach to North Korea during a televised debate yesterday, agreeing with the U.S. that more pressure should be exerted and that all options are on the table to deal with the threat posed by Pyongyang. The AP reports.

The U.S.’s efforts for more than a year have culminated in over 20 countries curbing their ties with North Korea, with nations taking measures such as expelling North Korean ambassadors, restricting business activities and reducing the presence of North Korean laborers. The actions demonstrate the results of the pressure campaign waged by the State Department, but the ability of the campaign to change Pyongyang’s behavior is still in question. Paul Sonne and Felicia Schwartz observe at the Wall Street Journal.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY

Trump’s belligerent rhetoric toward other nations could set the U.S. “on the path to World War III,” the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said in an interview yesterday, admonishing Trump for treating the presidency like a “reality show” and stating that his attitude should “concern anyone who cares about our nation.” The spat between Trump and Corker has the potential to impact Trump’s legislative program, the approach to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and any potential confirmation hearings should Secretary of State Rex Tillerson be removed from his post. Jonathan Martin and Mark Landler report at the New York Times.

The Trump administration announced Friday that it would ease sanctions against Sudan after the Sudanese government committed to stop buying arms from North Korea – a decision which has caused some consternation among human rights advocates, but others have argued that the move allows the U.S. to wield more influence in Sudan. Martina Stevis-Gridneff and Ian Talley report at the Wall Street Journal.

Trump wants to give peace “a shot” before thinking about moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, the president said in an interview broadcast Saturday. Reuters reports.

“Cuba will not make concessions to its sovereignty and independence,” Cuba’s First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who is seen as the likely successor to President Raul Castro, said yesterday in an apparent rebuff to Trump’s speech at the U.N. General Assembly last month stating that sanctions against Cuba would not be lifted until Cuba restores democracy and capitalism. Marc Frank reports at Reuters.

The U.S. and the international community ignore the plight of Tibet at great risk, the situation has the potential to erupt in violence as China continues to oppress Tibetans and the U.S. has an interest in putting the rights of Tibet on the agenda as a buttress against China’s expansionist aims. Josh Rogin writes at the Washington Post.

IRAN

The world would “condemn” the U.S. and not Iran if “America carries out any violations” of the nuclear agreement, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday ahead of Trump’s decision whether or not to certify Iran’s compliance with the agreement before the Oct. 15 deadline. Al Jazeera reports.

If the U.S. imposes new sanctions against Iran, the U.S. should move its regional military bases to a “2000-kilometer (1,240-mile) radius” from Iran’s borders, the chief of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (I.R.G.C.) Gen. Mohammed Ali Jafari was reported as saying yesterday. The AP reports.

Should the U.S. designate the I.R.G.C. a terrorist group, Iran would consider the U.S. army “to be like Islamic State,” Jafari also said yesterday, Reuters reports.

Trump’s weekend spat with the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) could impact the approach to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, as the president is expected to place the future of the agreement in the hands of Congress by decertifying Iran’s compliance this week and Corker holds significant influence on Congress. Adam Taylor provides an analysis at the Washington Post.

The U.S. hard-liners’ views about the nuclear deal are based on false assumptions, their approach ignores the fact that the agreement is multilateral and pertains only to the issue of nuclear weapons, and they fail to understand that Iran would still be subject to some inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (I.A.E.A.) once the “sunset clause” has expired. Iran’s ambassador to the U.N. Gholamali Khoshroo writes at the New York Times.

The five key points about the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and Trump’s decision whether or not to certify Iran’s compliance, are provided by Rebecca Kheel at the Hill.

The implications of decertification and the key issues surrounding the nuclear deal are analyzed by Katrina Manson at the Financial Times.

TURKEY

The U.S. and Turkey announced restrictions to most visitor visas between the countries yesterday, the U.S. embassy in Ankara made the first move by suspending all nonimmigrant visas due to security reasons and made the move days after Turkey arrested a Turkish employee at the U.S. Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey having accused the employee of links to the Fethullah Gülen, the alleged mastermind behind last summer’s failed coup against Turkish President Reçep Tayyip Erdoğan. Felicia Schwartz reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The suspension of visas reflects the deteriorating U.S.-Turkey relationship over a series of issues, including disagreements about the war in Syria, Turkey’s extradition request for Gülen, and this summer’s incident involving Erdoğan’s bodyguards and protestors outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence in Washington. Erin Cunningham and Kareem Fahim explain at the Washington Post.

SYRIA

The U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (S.D.F.) launched an operation to fully liberate the city of Raqqa from the Islamic State group yesterday, the militants are now confined to small areas of the city center. Zena Tahhan reports at Al Jazeera.

The Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army rebels launched an operation in Syria’s northwestern Idlib province with the support of Russian airstrikes yesterday, the offensive taking place in the province largely controlled by the al-Qaeda-linked Tahrir al-Sham alliance. The BBC reports.

Turkish forces and Tahrir al-Sham militants traded fire in Idlib province yesterday along the Syria-Turkey border, according to the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Al Jazeera reports.

The U.S. has been aiding the Islamic State group by impeding pro-government forces advancing in some areas of eastern Syria, the leader of the Lebanese Shi’ite Hezbollah militia group Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said yesterday. Reuters reports.

September was the deadliest month on record this year in the Syria war, with almost 1,000 civilians killed according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the escalating casualties were largely due to bombing campaigns carried out by pro-Syrian government forces in spite of a series of cease-fire agreements struck in the Kazakh capital of Astana over the past months. Louisa Loveluck reports at the Washington Post.

The battle against Islamic State militants in Raqqa has come at a huge cost, the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes have killed hundreds of civilians and caused significant damage to infrastructure. John Davison explains at Reuters.

IRAQ

The defeat of the Islamic State militants in the Iraqi town of Hawija removes the common enemy shared by Iraqi forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga forces at a time when tensions have been raised due to last month’s Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum. Isabel Coles and Ali A. Nabhan explain the impact of the referendum and the points of contention within Iraq’s territory at the Wall Street Journal.

More than 1,000 Islamic State militants have surrendered since last Sunday following their defeat in the Iraqi town of Hawija, according to Kurdish intelligence officials. Rod Nordland explains the significance of the surrender and the dynamics of the fight against the Islamic State group in Iraq at the New York Times.

AFGHANISTAN

A “tidal wave of air power is on the horizon” to defeat the Taliban, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan Gen. John Nicholson Jr. said at the weekend, marking a new U.S.-Afghan military effort to increase air force capacity and double special operations forces. Pamela Constable reports at the Washington Post.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (I.C.R.C.) announced today that it would “drastically reduce” their presence in Afghanistan due to “exposure to risk,” demonstrating the deteriorating security situation in the country. Josh Smith reports at Reuters.

An airstrike by Afghan security forces killed at least seven Taliban militants on Saturday, according to a spokesperson for the Afghan Army Corps in the northern region. The AP reports.

A feature on the C.I.A.’s black site torture room in Afghanistan, is provided by Larry Siems at the Guardian.

TRUMP-RUSSIA

Russia recruited two video bloggers to spread pro-Trump and anti-Hillary Clinton propaganda, creating videos targeting African-American audiences to try and influence 2016 election campaign. Ben Collins, Gideon Resnick and Spencer Ackerman reveal at The Daily Beast.

The leading contender for a seat on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is reportedly a potential witness in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia. Betsy Woodruff reports at The Daily Beast.

A feature on the Russian journalists, activists and legal experts working to uncover Russian troll farms and the spread of Kremlin propaganda in the U.S. and Europe is provided by David Filipov at the Washington Post.

RUSSIA

N.A.T.O. will launch a new multinational force in Romania today to counter Russia and its increased presence in the Black Sea, Robin Emmott reports at Reuters.

Russia may retaliate to U.S. pressure on the Kremlin-funded R.T. broadcaster by restricting U.S. media operations in Russia, Russian Foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova said yesterday, declining to identify specific U.S. media organizations that would be targeted. Joanna Plucinska reports at POLITICO.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The U.S. military is reassessing its mission in Niger following last week’s ambush by Islamic State militants which killed four U.S. special forces members who were training and advising Nigerien forces. Nancy A. Youssef reports at the Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. Army plans to release a new approach to fighting future wars today in the face of challenges such as cyberwarfare and hybrid attacks. Ben Kesling and Julian E. Barnes report at the Wall Street Journal.

Chief of staff John Kelly’s personal cellphone was possibly compromised at Trump’s transition headquarters in late 2016, according to two officials. Josh Dawsey reports at POLITICO.

A suspected U.S. drone strike killed give alleged al-Qaeda fighters in Yemen yesterday, Ahmed Al-Haj reports at the AP.

The Gulf crisis can end if Qatar gives up hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, a top Emirati official said yesterday, referring to the dispute that began on June 5 when Saudi Arabia, U.A.E., Egypt and Bahrain cut diplomatic ties and boycotted Qatar due to its alleged support for terrorism and close ties to Iran. Jon Gambrell reports at the AP.

The former C.E.O. of the Blackwater private security company, Erik Prince, is considering running for Senate as a Republican, Jeremy W. Peters, Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush report at the New York Times.

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About the Author

is an assistant news editor at Just Security and Legal Researcher at JUSTICE, a law reform and human rights organization based in the UK.