July 5, 2016
In the news:
A lawyer representing a Saudi Arabian detainee, currently held as a terrorism suspect at Guantanamo, has alleged that the CIA paid large sums of money to Romania to host hidden prisons under the secret renditions program. The European Court of Human Rights is expected to announce its ruling on Romania’s responsibility for the program in a few months.
In an interview with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty early last week, US Ambassador to Russia John Tefft discussed the Kremlin’s criticism of NATO expansion, and defended the position that NATO is “not an offensive organization,” but rather a “defensive alliance.”
On Friday, a memorial was held in remembrance of the 100 year anniversary of the Battle of Somme. The battle was among the bloodiest in WWI, lasting five months, and killing and wounding over a million people.
Following the EU summit in Brussels, EU officials have decided to “extend economic sanctions against Russia,” until January 31, 2017. The sanctions target the nation’s energy and banking sectors as well as political figures.
Turkey’s President, Recep Teyyip Erdogan, has expressed, in a letter sent to Russian President Vladimir Putin, his regrets to the family of a Russian pilot who was taken down by Turkish forces last fall. The letter stopped just short of an apology, and Putin announced that trade and tourism restrictions will not be lifted until there is a formal apology.
In other news from Turkey, 44 people were killed and 238 wounded following an attack on Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport early last week. The three suicide bombers were citizens of Russia, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, Turkey has blamed ISIS, and began carrying out nation-wide raids to find others connected to the attacks.
The battle for Fallujah has finally come to an end after a month-long effort. Iraqi forces have now set their eye on recapturing Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, by the end of this year, but U.S. officials are skeptical that this is a feasible timeline.
A joint investigation report by the New York Times and Al Jazeera uncovered a systematic multi-million dollar weapons theft in Jordan. The weapons were part of a CIA program aimed at arming and training Syrian rebels. Investigators do not know the location of most of the stolen weapons, which include Kalashnikov assault rifles, mortars, and rocket-propelled grenades.
Five people were killed and nearly thirty injured after a series of suicide attacks were carried out in the Lebanese village of Qaa. Since then, Lebanese officials have detained over 100 Syrians for illegal entry.
Two suicide attacks carried out by Taliban militants on Thursday killed over 30 people and wounded over 40 in the Paghman district of Afghanistan. The casualties were mostly police recruits who were headed to Kabul on leave.
Shortly after the stabbing of a teenage girl, Israeli police surrounded a Palestinian village in the West Bank where the suspected attacker lives. Israeli forces have also set a curfew for the area and erected several new checkpoints.
Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have appealed to the UN Human Rights Council to suspend Saudi Arabia from the Council because of its “appalling” record of human rights violations in Yemen. Any member of the Council may be suspended for “persistently committing gross and systematic violations of human rights” by a two-thirds majority vote by the UN General Assembly.
In other news from Yemen, although negotiations have brought a sense of peace to part of the country, clashes continue in the city of Taiz. Both parties to the conflict have surrounded the city, and are controlling the stream of medication, people, and supplies into the zone. Since the Yemeni conflict started, over 3,500 civilians have been killed.
The US is contemplating establishing a coordinated effort with Russia in carrying out attacks against terrorist groups in Syria. U.S. officials are offering the military cooperation in exchange for Moscow halting attacks on US-backed rebels, and pressuring Assad to do the same.
A bit of good news came out of the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh last week, where the negotiated ceasefire has largely been followed in recent weeks. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in separate calls with both the Armenian and Azeri presidents, encouraged both nations to continue to execute their commitments.
The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, is urging member states to impose new “broader and more detailed” sanctions against North Korea in response to the state’s “flagrant” violations of previous sanctions. The sanctions would mean mandatory inspections of all cargo coming into and out of the state, disconnection from financial markets, and stricter control over the country’s trade in coal, iron ore, and rare minerals.
A fishing captain was killed and three crewmembers were injured after a Taiwanese warship accidentally fired a missile in the direction of China that ended up hitting a fishing boat in its path. An investigation is underway to determine why the missile was launched.
Around the web:
Taking the Off-Ramp: A Path to Preventing Terrorism. Eric Rosand discusses some current disengagement and reintegration programs for returnees and defectors of terrorist groups, and what can be done to further strengthen these kinds of efforts.
Syria’s Refugee Children Have Lost All Hope. Writing for Foreign Policy, Sulome Anderson tells the story of the anguish and despair that children refugees are particularly feeling in makeshift refugee camps in Lebanon. Read about why these children are choosing suicide, and why NGOs are struggling to provide help.
Rediscovering Diplomacy: An Agenda for Decreasing Tensions Between Russia and the West. Read Ulrich Kuhn’s outline of a six-step proposal for improving relations between Russia and the West here.
On the blog:
Conflict and Stabilization Operations: Atrocity Prevention. The Atrocities Prevention Board (APB) was established to prevent and combat atrocities. Led by the White House, the board seeks to identify and address atrocity threats as well as oversee institutional changes so that the U.S. can better prevent and respond to mass atrocities against civilians.
International Humanitarian Law: A Primer for Professionals. Register for one of our upcoming one-day workshops. Audience members will learn to recognize and understand situations where international humanitarian law is applicable. CLE credits are available! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to apply and obtain more information.