In the news
This past week saw yet another ISIS hostage situation come to a tragic end, as the U.S. confirmed the death of 26-year-old humanitarian, Kayla Mueller. ISIS claimed that she was killed by Jordanian airstrikes, but Jordanian officials denounced the allegation as just “another PR stunt” to “throw a wedge in the coalition” to fight ISIS. Although details of Mueller’s death are still unknown, a Pentagon official stated that there is no doubt ISIS killed her.
Airstrikes against ISIS continue in Iraq and Syria, led by the U.S., Jordan and the United Arab Emirates. On the ground, Iraqi forces, backed by the U.S., are preparing a major offensive to reclaim the urban area of Mosul, currently under ISIS control. In Syria, the Kurds, armed by Germany, are considering an alliance with moderate Syrian rebels, which would make them the chief force fighting ISIS in the country. Meanwhile, ISIS has been showing signs of strain as it withdrew some of its insurgents from the areas around Aleppo.
On the U.S. front, the White House has sent a draft of an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against ISIS to Congress. The proposal, which can be read here, contains a three year sunset date and repeals an unexpired 2002 Iraq War AUMF, but does not provide for the repeal of the broad 2001 AUMF. As expected, it has elicited much criticism from both sides.
The decision to delay the Nigerian presidential elections by six weeks for security concerns was met by criticism both at home and abroad. However, a pre-election survey showed that although most Nigerians are eager to vote, they are indeed worried about violence. This decision occurred as Boko Haram escalated its attacks in neighboring countries. In addition to Cameroon, the group has started launching attacks in Niger, where a state of emergency was declared in the border region of Diffa.
On a more positive note, despite stated doubts and fresh violence, the meeting of the Russian, Ukrainian, German and French leaders in Belarus led to a cease-fire agreement that went into effect Sunday. The fighting parties agreed to remove heavy weaponry at least 30 miles from the front lines and to withdraw all foreign forces. They also agreed to start negotiations about local elections. But leaders on all sides expressed caution, emphasizing the need for a proper implementation of this new agreement.
Around the web
From collective to individual self-defense? As a member of the coalition using force against ISIS in Syria, Jordan was arguably participating in the collective self-defense of Iraq. Following the immolation of the Jordanian pilot, however, Jordan significantly increased its airstrikes as well as pledged its support to Iraq forces on the ground. This article suggests that Jordan may be attacking ISIS on the basis of a new legal theory – individual self-defense.
Troubling translator. The current pretrial hearings in the 9/11 military commission case were recessed when the defendants claimed that the courtroom translator had also been the translator at a CIA “black site”. Defendants’ lawyers claim this may be part of a campaign of infiltration of the defense team. The judge assured them that he would not rule without letting them have their say on the vetting efforts and the harm to trust caused to the defense team.
On the blog
Challenges of the field. Read about the IHL team’s brownbag luncheon with Ron Capps, former army officer and diplomat and current writer advocating for Veterans’ healthcare and acceptance of those suffering from PTSD.
Caught in the Crossfire. A reminder that on March 5th, the American Red Cross and the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies will host an expert presentation and panel on ensuring the existence of a safe space for education during conflict. RSVP on the blog to attend in person or watch the event live-streamed in HD at bit.do/caughtinthecrossfire.