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Category Archives: Syria

Folk International Law and Syrian Airstrikes

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Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 7:21 AM

Earlier this year, I published an article called “Folk International Law,” in which I argued that there were many unappreciated and little understood costs to the convergence of LOAC and international human rights law. I suggested that the legal debate over targeted killing had driven US-based human rights advocates to contribute to and participate in a . . .
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Khorasan: Not Quite Out of Nowhere

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Monday, September 29, 2014 at 9:31 PM

In a post this weekend, to which both Jack and Ben have already written responses, Glenn Greenwald suggests the Khorasan group is a “wholesale concoction” that appeared “seemingly out of nowhere” in the press in the run-up to the current campaign. In contrast to Greenwald’s claim, the Long War Journal has a series of posts dating . . .
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Ongoing “Covert” Training of Syrian Rebels: But Is It Still Covert . . . , And, If So, Why?

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Monday, September 22, 2014 at 8:45 AM

[Cross-Posted at Just Security]  Last week Congress approved, and the President signed, legislation that authorizes the Secretary of Defense (see section 149) to “provide assistance, including training, equipment, supplies, and sustainment, to appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition and other appropriately vetted Syrian groups and individuals,” for three specified purposes, including “defending the Syrian people from . . .
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Senator Udall Discusses Covert Action in Syria to Train 2-3K Moderate Rebels

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Thursday, September 18, 2014 at 1:46 PM

From yesterday’s Senate Arms Services Committee Hearing (at about the 2:23 mark): Senator UDALL (NM):  And my question to you has to do with – and this is all public information, but everybody’s well aware there’s been a covert operation, operating in the region to train forces, moderate forces, to go into Syria and to . . .
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Senator Kaine’s ISIS AUMF

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 12:59 PM

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) will introduce an authorization for the use of military force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) today. The proposal comes as no surprise. Earlier this week, Senator Kaine penned an op-ed in the New York Times, both arguing that “when the mission shifts from defense to offense, congressional approval is essential;” and objecting . . .
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Rep. Adam Schiff’s ISIS AUMF

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 6:26 PM

Representative Adam Schiff (D-CA), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, introduced an authorization for the use of military force against ISIS yesterday. According to a press release from Rep. Schiff, “First, the authorization would give temporary, tailored authority for the combat ongoing against ISIL in Iraq, and for strikes against ISIL targets in Syria.  . . .
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House Amendment to Arm Syrian Rebels

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014 at 12:18 PM

The House Rules Committee has released an amendment to the Continuing Resolution (CR) that would authorize the Department of Defense to begin arming and training moderate Syrian rebels as identified by the Obama Administration; however, the measure provides no new funding for the initiative. The Hill has more on the proposal, which you can read . . .
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“The Legal Basis for Striking ISIS”

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014 at 8:24 AM

That’s the title of an hour-long panel discussion which will be held at noon on September 25, and hosted  by the Heritage Foundation’s Cully Stimson.  He’ll be joined by Dechert’s Steve Bradbury, and our own Bobby Chesney and Steve Vladeck.  More details can be found here; the event’s description is below. As the Obama Administration . . .
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Four of The Would-be ISIS AUMFs

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014 at 6:32 PM

While Congressional leadership may be hesitant to take up a vote authorizing the president to use military force in Iraq and/or Syria against ISIS in the coming weeks, we’ve seen several different authorizations put into play—with different requirements, and by different members of Congress. Below, I note four of the would-be ISIS AUMFs that are kicking around . . .
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A Politically Palatable Authorization to Use Force Against IS [UPDATED]

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at 2:20 PM

One senses growing pressure, within and without the White House, for the President to seek authorization from Congress for what he and his aides say will be a long battle against the Islamic State (IS).  Last week I outlined the political concerns in Congress and the White House, and earlier this week I argued that . . .
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U.S. Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria? Possible International Legal Theories

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Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 3:04 PM

In the wake of Thursday’s statements by Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey and Friday’s comments by Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes, it sounds like the U.S. Government is at least considering whether to conduct air strikes against ISIS in Syria. A decision to do so clearly is not a done deal. As the Times . . .
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Vice News Coverage of The Islamic State

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014 at 10:26 AM

We have flagged this remarkable, five-part Vice series before, in our news roundup; to be sure it came to readers’ attention, we opted to note report Medyan Dairieh’s up-close examination of the Islamic State in a standalone post.  Have a look.

Holder on “Something That Gives Us Really Extreme, Extreme Concern”

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Sunday, July 13, 2014 at 2:01 PM

President Obama, in his NDU speech last year, stated: “[T]his war, like all wars, must end.  That’s what history advises.  That’s what our democracy demands.” Attorney General Holder, in a conversation today (scroll down) with Pierre Thomas on ABC’s “This Week” about the threat from Americans and Europeans in Syria, stated: HOLDER: “In some ways, it’s more frightening . . .
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Moderate Syrian Rebel Application Form

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Monday, June 30, 2014 at 7:35 AM

From the Borowitz Report at the New Yorker. Pretty excellent. A taste: If I were given a highly lethal automatic weapon by the United States, I would: A) Only kill exactly the people that the United States wanted me to killB) Try to kill the right people, with the caveat that I have never used . . .
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U.N. Security Council Referral of Syria to the International Criminal Court?

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Thursday, May 8, 2014 at 2:45 PM

The New York Times reports that France has drafted a U.N. Security Council resolution referring the “situation” in Syria to the International Criminal Court that has been tailored “specifically to address American sensitivities” about the ICC. The Bush and Obama Administrations negotiated similar compromises when they agreed to Security Council referrals of human rights violations . . .
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Al Qaeda Statement Breaking with ISIS

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Monday, February 3, 2014 at 8:39 AM

Courtesy of Aaron Zelin and his indispensable Jihadology blog, here is the latest dust-up in the Al Qaeda family: “On the Relationship of Qā’idat al-Jihād and the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shām.”  

A Snag in the Destruction of Syria’s Chemical Weapons?

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Friday, January 31, 2014 at 5:15 PM

After months of good news, the mission to wipe out Syria’s chemical arsenal may have run into trouble. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is charged with ensuring disposal of the weapons, met last week to figure out what to do about a process that the U.S. Ambassador described as “languished . . .
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Syria, the Security Council, and the Chemical Weapons Convention: a Reply to Jens Iverson

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Monday, November 4, 2013 at 10:00 AM

In his response earlier this week, Jens Iverson correctly points out that the Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits states parties from “retain[ing]” chemical weapons.  And states do, of course, keep their stockpiles (after inventory and sealing by the Organization for the Prohibition on Chemical Weapons, or “OPCW”) until they are destroyed. But a close reading of . . .
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On the Transfer of Syria’s Chemical Weapons

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Friday, November 1, 2013 at 10:00 AM

In an excellent Lawfare post last month, Does the U.N.’s Syria Resolution Violate the Chemical Weapons Convention?  Faiza Patel asserts that if Syria sent chemical weapons to another country, Syria would violate the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).  The conclusion stems from her reasonable, though (to my eye) exceedingly literal reading of the CWC—which bans the . . .
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Thoughts About the Obama Administration’s Counterterrorism Paradigm in Light of the Al-Liby and Ikrima Operations

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Sunday, October 13, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Mary DeRosa and Marty Lederman, both of whom were senior national security lawyers in the Obama administration, have a helpful if somewhat hopeful post at Just Security on the significance of the recent al-Liby and Ikrima capture operations.  The post is long, but I would summarize it as follows (this is my summary, not theirs): . . .
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