In the News
Last week in Yemen, Houthi rebels seized the president’s chief of staff and then attacked the presidential compound. The rebels agreed to release President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in exchange for more influence in the country’s affairs. The situation in Yemen is also increasingly relevant because the Yemeni branch of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.
At the beginning of last week, Ukrainian troops retook most of the Donetsk airport from rebels. By the end of the week, however, the rebels gained control of the airport as Ukrainian troops retreated. Drone footage shows the remains of the airport, a key objective in the conflict between Ukraine and the separatists. The tenuous ceasefire is breaking down as violence increases and new Russian troops arrive.
And at the State of the Union last week, U.S. President Obama basically asked Congress to authorize war against Islamic State; the United States is still engaged in air strikes in the region, conducting almost twenty last week. IS continues to push for more territory in Iraq and Syria and recently conducted scores of execution-style killings. The group was known to be holding two Japanese hostages and demanding a hefty ransom; but reports suggest it executed one of them. The group, however, released 200 captive Yazidis earlier this week without any ransom. Those released were mostly elderly or infirm.
Around the Web
Women in War. Women take on many different roles during armed conflict—some of them as fighters directly engaged in combat. In Iraq and Syria there are Kurdish all-women brigades, women volunteering to fight alongside Islamic State, and the women’s battalion in Aleppo.
Prepping for Cyber War. The frontline in new conflicts may be in cyber space. While the highly publicized Sony attack only resulted in the release of information, a cyber attack at a German steel mill actually caused physical damage, which is concerning after a Pentagon report suggested that nearly every U.S. weapons program shows “significant vulnerabilities” to cyber attacks.
On the Blog
The Arms Trade Treaty. In many armed conflicts there are questions regarding how armed non-state actors acquire some of these illicit weapons. The Arms Trade Treaty seeks to eradicate the illicit trade in arms by requiring states to establish standards for authorized transfers of arms—a positive development in ensuring compliance with international humanitarian law by limiting the means of warfare.
*Inclusion in our “Weekly IHL Update” does not mean that the American Red Cross endorses or agrees with the views and opinions expressed.*