One Hand Builds and the Other Destroys

July 11, 2016

In the news:

Citing concerns over national security, U.S. President Barack Obama announced last week that the U.S. will keep 8,400 troops on the ground in Afghanistan. The ongoing fourteen-year conflict is the nation’s longest, and since the beginning over 2,200 troops have died and over 20,000 have been wounded.

Seven years after the investigation was launched, the findings of a voluminous report conducted by the Iraq Inquiry Committee have been released. The committee was tasked with examining “how and why Britain went to war in Iraq.” The report concluded that then Prime Minister Tony Blair’s decision to invade Iraq was based on flawed intelligence, that not all diplomatic channels were exhausted, that there was a lack of planning for a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq, and that Iraq was not an urgent threat to national security.

Two men, believed to have assisted a suspect in the Paris attacks that took place last fall, are under formal investigation. French authorities say the two men helped Salah Abdeslam get past police checkpoints, and cross into Belgium following the attacks.

In related news coming out of France, Karim Mohammed-Aggad, brother to one of the attackers who carried out the Paris attacks, was sentenced last week to 9 years in jail. Karim was found guilty of participating in an Islamist recruitment network, and participating in ISIS training during a 2013 trip to Syria.

A day before last week’s NATO summit, Angela Merkel announced that she would like to see more of a constructive relationship between NATO member states and Moscow.

Meanwhile, Russia is reportedly set to deploy an aircraft carrier for the first time to assist the effort in Syria. The Admiral Kuznetsov is set to deploy to the Mediterranean in October and remain stationed there for up to four months.

Turkish officials have arrested seventeen more suspects, eleven of whom are foreigners, believed to have connections to the Istanbul airport bombings. The detained suspects are held on accusations of “membership of an armed terrorist organization.”

In the worst bombing since the US-lead invasion of Iraq in 2003, 250 people died in Baghdad after ISIS carried out an attack in a largely Shia Muslim area of the capital city. The blast came from a van, left near a popular shopping area, loaded with explosives. Following the attack, the Iraqi government has come under scrutiny for not doing more to protect citizens.

The UN reported last week that three people, two of whom were children, were killed, and thirteen wounded in a camp for displaced Iraqis. The camp, located south of Baghdad, was hit by a mortar attack.

The Syrian army announced a three-day ceasefire to mark the end of Ramadan. Occasional instances of violence have been reported since the announcement, and one rebel group battling Syrian forces outside of Damascus reported that “clashes with the pro-government forces have not let up.”

Ten people are dead, and twenty-seven are wounded, after a suicide bombing occurred outside a bakery in Syria.

An attack on a Yemeni army base in the city of Aden has left at least ten soldiers dead and dozens more wounded. The casualties resulted from a double car bomb attack. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

Saudi Arabia was rocked last week by a series of attacks on the cities of Medina, Qatif, and Jeddah. Four security guards were killed in Medina. No casualties, other than the attackers themselves, have been reported in either Qatif or Jeddah. Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks yet, many suspect ISIS.

A report released by Amnesty International, based on interviews of civilians living or working in areas controlled by rebels, documented a series of alleged human rights abuses and war crimes in Syria. The chronicled abuses were attributed to a handful of opposition groups over the span of four years.

Twelve Libyan troops were killed when a car bomb exploded in Benghazi, Libya.

Twenty-two people lost their lives after a terrorist attack in a restaurant in Dhaka, Bangladesh. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. Authorities in Bangladesh are now focusing efforts on investigating and encouraging families to report the disappearances of young men in the country in an attempt to curb terrorist group recruitment.

Sixty miles north of Dhaka, another attack was carried out on Thursday morning during a large Eid prayer service. The police guarding the prayer service seem to have been the target of the attack. Four people, including two officers, were killed and at least twelve others were injured.

An ISIS video was released last week featuring a man surrounded by several young children calling out Malaysian and Indonesian authorities, and referring to the overthrowing of “governments and leaders who did not follow Islamic principles.”

An alleged ISIS supporter attacked a police station in Solo, Indonesia, killing himself and wounding an officer. Indonesia has tightened security since the January bombing in Jakarta that killed seven people.

Around the web:

Turkish Leader Erdogan Making New Enemies and Frustrating Old Friends. Writing for The New York Times, Sabrina Tavernise delves into Erdogan’s rise to power, and how his “zero problems with neighbors” policy is causing problems for Turkey not only abroad, but is also within its borders.

Afghanistan: The Silent Casualties of a Forgotten War. In a piece for Time magazine Rachel Lowrey discusses the impact the fifteen-year war on Afghan civilians. The article, and the moving photography submitted by Paula Bronstein that it accompanies, may be found here.

The White House Doesn’t Know How Many People It Has Killed in Targeted Strikes. Joseph Trevithick discusses the issues with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s recently published summary report of U.S. Counterterrorism Strikes Outside Areas of Active Hostilities.

On the blog:

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 to apply and obtain more information.

IHL Action Campaign. Follow the work of the IHL Action Campaign, and our other youth education program updates!

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