Today's Headlines and Commentary

Zachary Burdette, Quinta Jurecic
Tuesday, October 11, 2016, 2:19 PM

After a brief period of moderated bombing, Russia has resumed its campaign of intensive airstrikes against rebel positions in eastern Aleppo, Reuters writes.

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

After a brief period of moderated bombing, Russia has resumed its campaign of intensive airstrikes against rebel positions in eastern Aleppo, Reuters writes. The latest airstrikes have killed at least eight in Aleppo, adding to the five deaths from rebel shelling of a school in Deraa, and the ten from an Islamic State suicide bomber in a village north of Manbij.

The intensification of airstrikes is hardening EU sentiment against Russia, Reuters reports. The Kremlin’s humanitarian abuses in Syria makes it unlikely that the bloc will ease the sanctions implemented in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea, which are set to expire in January. After Russia vetoed a French-led UN Security Council resolution to impose a no-fly zone over Aleppo, Paris is now raising the possibility of new bloc-wide sanctions against Russia linked to Moscow’s intervention in Syria. But despite earlier reports that Germany was considering backing plans for new sanctions, the initiative may flounder due to a lack of German support.

Moscow canceled a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and French President François Hollande scheduled to take place in Paris next week, writes the Wall Street Journal. The decision stems from the two states’ dispute over Russia’s bloody support for the Syrian government. In addition to spearheading the aforementioned UN Security Council resolution to implement a ceasefire in Aleppo, France has condemned Russian operations as constituting war crimes and had demanded that Putin and Hollande only discuss Syria during the now-canceled meeting. The Washington Post has more.

Russia’s recent deployment of its Iskander-M missile system—equipped with nuclear and conventional short-range ballistic missiles—to Kaliningrad highlights the growing tensions between Russia and the West, argues the BBC. The deployment signals Moscow’s willingness to assert Russian power in its sphere of influence and to counter NATO’s recent measures to bolster deterrence following the annexation of Crimea.

As Russia’s relations with the West chill, Moscow is mendings its ties with Turkey after the fallout last November when the Turkish military shot down a Russian jet, reports the New York Times. Russia and Turkey agreed to bolster cooperation over trade, including the resumption of work on a gas pipeline, subsidized Gazprom prices in the Turkish market, and the end of Russian sanctions on Turkish agricultural goods. Both Turkey and Russia have deteriorating relationships with the United States, and President Putin is using the opportunity to nurture divisions within NATO. The Journal has more.

Both Turkey and Russia are also cracking down on dissident groups within territory they control. To deal with Crimean Tatar leaders calling for Russia to abandon its occupation of Crimea, Moscow is recycling the “KGB practice of enforced psychiatric confinement,” writes the Financial Times. The FSB has also arrested, killed, and denied visas to Tatar opposition leaders.

Turkey’s crackdown is perhaps less brutal but more sweeping. Authorities have detained, arrested, and dismissed tens of thousands of citizens and government employees with alleged links to the failed coup this summer. Turkey has continued its purge of its police forces, detaining 125 more officers associated with Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accuses of masterminding the coup attempt. Reuters has more.

Turkey defended its military presence in Iraq against the criticism of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, reports Reuters. In response to al-Abadi’s rejection of Turkey’s recent vote to maintain its military footprint within Iraq, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said al-Abadi should “know his limits,” and that Turkey would continue to train Sunni forces in northern Iraq. Turkey’s military intervention into the Iraqi and Syrian territory adjacent to its borders reflects President Erdogan’s concerns with both the Islamic State and the Syrian rebel groups who may threaten Turkey. In particular, Turkey fears that some Kurdish rebels may link up with Kurdish insurgent and terrorist networks—such as the PKK—operating in Turkey. The PKK’s assassination of two Turkish officials this week highlights these concerns, notes Reuters.

The U.S.-backed coalition offensive against the Islamic State is beginning to erode the group’s media efforts. The quantity of ISIS propaganda has dropped considerably, and its content has shifted away from its emphasis on its capacity to govern. The Times has more on a new study from West Point that chronicles the development.

Islamic State fighters are likely on the verge of losing another significant territorial toehold—Sirte, Libya. Forces from the U.N.-backed government are closing in on the militants who remain in the central area of the city, notes Reuters. The government forces have benefited from American air support in Sirte since early August.

Taliban militants briefly infiltrated Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, on Monday, reports the Washington Post. Government fighters ejected the fighters within hours, but their ability to penetrate the strategically important southern city is yet another signal that the Afghan national security forces are poorly equipped to deal with the insurgency. This assault follows quickly behind the Taliban’s offensive into the northern city of Kunduz last week, which government forces have struggled to repel.

Indian authorities have arrested 8,000 people amid unrest in Kashmir, comments the Post. Anti-Indian protests have intensified this year following the death of a popular Kashmiri rebel at the hands of Indian fighters. There has also been an uptick in sporadic fighting within the disputed territory, including a recent attack on an Indian military base that prompted India to respond with cross-border counterterror strikes into Pakistan.

The Journal has more on the Syrian refugee arrested by German police forces yesterday after the suspect was caught and tied up by fellow Syrians following a manhunt. The man, who police believe to have ties to ISIS, is suspected of planning to bomb airports in Berlin. This is the latest in a string of German arrests targeting Syrian migrants and refugees with alleged extremist links or terrorist plans, which have caused political strain for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s welcoming refugee policy.

Ethiopia announced a state of emergency to deal with high levels of mob violence, the Post reports. Armed groups have been attacking foreign-owned businesses, in particular, and the Ethiopian government alleges that the Egyptian and Eritrean governments are financing the operations. The emergency measures grant authority to security forces to resort to force more often and to suspend due process.

South Korea declared it would use force against Chinese fishing boats operating illegally in Korean waters, writes Reuters. The announcement follows an incident last week in which a Chinese vessel rammed and sank a South Korean coast guard ship.

China and Russia have scheduled a second joint exercise to practice countering American missile defense systems deployed in South Korea, comments Reuters. The imminent deployment of the THAAD system to a Korean golf course has raised questions in Beijing and Moscow as to whether the system’s radar capabilities could implicate their own strategic deterrents.

Chinese soldiers are protesting plans to further reduce the end strength of the China’s military next year, notes Reuters. The cuts are designed to free up money for capital-intensive investments in high-end technologies. The protesters are demanding civilian employment as compensation.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Kenneth Anderson provided the link and a brief introduction to a new book, War-Algorithm Accountability by Dustin Lewis, Gabriella Blum, and Naz Modirzadeh.

Elena Chachko and Ashley Deeks assessed international support for the “unwilling or unable” standard for the use of force.

Quinta Jurecic previewed the Week That Will Be.

Paul Rosenzweig reiterated his call for Congress to provide effective oversight over the Department of Homeland Security.

Benjamin Wittes revisited the potential for a Trump administration to abuse the powers of the Department of Justice.

Quinta compiled the national security highlights from the second presidential debate.

Peter Margulies responded to John DeLong and Susan Hennessey’s piece last week on NSA compliance with FISC requirements.

Email the Roundup Team noteworthy law and security-related articles to include, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for additional commentary on these issues.Sign up to receive Lawfare in your inbox. Visit our Events Calendar to learn about upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings on our Job Board.

Zachary Burdette was a National Security Intern at the Brookings Institution and is an M.A. candidate at Georgetown University's Security Studies Program concentrating in military operations.
Quinta Jurecic is a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and a senior editor at Lawfare. She previously served as Lawfare's managing editor and as an editorial writer for the Washington Post.

Subscribe to Lawfare