In the news:
This week, the U.S. attracted criticism by Iraq’s defense minister for providing an April to May timeframe for Iraq military forces to retake Mosul. ISIS continues to conduct large-scale kidnappings in both Iraq and Syria. Approximately 120 men were reportedly kidnapped near the city of Tikrit, Iraq – thirty were later released. ISIS also abducted at least 220 Assyrian Christians in Syria in an apparent response to recent Kurdish gains in the northeast.
More positive developments have occurred regarding the Ukraine ceasefire, as Ukrainian troops and rebels exchanged prisoners of war this week. But don’t be expecting peace immediately – some suggest that the wave of terrorist attacks and bombing during a street march in the city of Kharkiv may indicate that the pro-Russian separatists have chosen the city as their new target. Meanwhile, Obama has been weighing new sanctions to hold Russia accountable for the recent “land grab” in Debaltseve following the ceasefire agreement.
In Africa, the Chadian army’s efforts have led to a turn in the tide in the fight against Boko Haram. Unfortunately, the militant group is retaliating with indiscriminate and dangerous attacks. A Nigerian gang has taken a U.S. missionary hostage, but Boko Haram’s responsibility is unlikely. Al-Shabaab, a group of Somali-based Islamist militants, threatened the Mall of America but the U.S. Homeland Security Department said it was not credible.
The U.S. judiciary and its military commissions have been busy this past week. The Court of Military Commission Review (CMCR) voided David Hicks’ conviction for material support for terrorism, the jury in the “American Sniper Trial” returned a guilty verdict, and the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority were ordered to pay a fine after a US court found them guilty of providing material support to terrorism.
Around the web:
European jihadists. Despite heightened European security, a growing number of aspiring jihadists are crossing the European borders to join the fight in Syria and Iraq. As an example, last week, three British teenage girls allegedly left the UK to join ISIS and are reported to have crossed into Syria. British authorities believe they may have been recruited by another young British woman who had joined ISIS in 2013.
Commercial and military drones. As the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) introduced its new proposal for drone regulations, here are five things you need to know about this proposed drone policy. The Bard Center for the Study of Drones describes the growing role of drones in U.S. military commitments around the world.
Advancing LGBT rights in the army. In a speech to military personnel in Afghanistan, new U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter suggested that being transgender should not preclude a person from serving in the U.S. army. This statement was backed by the White House.
On the blog:
Simulations: a powerful IHL teaching tool. The American Red Cross has been developing a new method of education by creating simulations on IHL topics in which the participants are placed in real-life situations in order to understand different IHL concepts.
Situation update: Ukraine. Read a comprehensive update on the Russia/Ukraine situation in the first weeks following the ceasefire agreement. As facts suggest that both parties may be on the right track towards implementing this agreement, doubts remain as to the pro Russian separatists’ commitment to peace.
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.