As Congress enters its lame-duck session, Foreign Policy outlines the nine ways that foreign policy will dominate the agenda.
Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) anticipates that the Senate will soon consider an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the Islamic State. The Virginian-Pilot quotes him as saying, “I think you’ll see us move to debating the authorizations and hopefully promptly moving to a vote.” The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is expected to turn toward this issue in both a public meeting and private intelligence briefing today. Here at Lawfare, Bobby, Jack, Matt Waxman, and Ben proposed a draft AUMF “to get the discussion going.”
Today, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced a reorganization of the Iraqi military. The Associated Press reports that 26 officers have been relieved of their positions, 10 others have been retired, and 18 new commanders have been appointed. Al-Abadi affirms, “The aim is not to punish anyone, but rather to improve our military performance.” Since September, the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State has killed 860 people in Iraq and Syria.
Three militant attacks in and around Baghdad today have killed 17 people and wounded 40 others. The AP informs us that although no one has claimed responsibility for the bombings yet, “they all bore the hallmarks of the Islamic State group.”
In China, President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping today announced new bilateral agreements on greenhouse gas emissions and the military. The Wall Street Journal notes that these follow deals on tariffs and visas, which were reached before the beginning of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this week.
The New York Times profiles President Xi, whom it describes as “a strongman with bold ambitions at home and abroad.”
Today, the White House released a statement, affirming that the U.N. Convention Against Torture applies both inside the territorial United States and anywhere abroad where it exercises governmental jurisdiction, such as Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In Geneva, State Department officials are answering questions about the changed policy before the Committee Against Torture. The Times has the story. Lawfare shared the news here too.
Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald informs us that on Friday, Navy Captain Judge J.K. Waits released an interim order, which stops female soldiers from handling Guantanamo detainee Abd al Hadi al-Iraqi during transports from his cell to his legal meetings.
Meanwhile, Syrian prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab is appealing U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler’s opinion, upholding the force-feeding of the hunger striker. The Miami Herald has that story, as well.
Yesterday, U.N. special representative to Syria Staffan de Mistura formally proposed the establishment of an “action plan” leading toward a ceasefire in the beleaguered city of Aleppo. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has deemed the idea “worth studying.” The Washington Post shares details.
Newsweek explains to us how the Central Intelligence Agency’s vetting process for “moderate” Syrian rebels works—or doesn’t.
Breaking Defense examines the U.S.’s history of arming rebels to fight proxy wars and offers some advice for our current foray in Syria.
U.S., Iranian, and European diplomats affirmed yesterday that they may need to extend nuclear negotiations beyond their self-imposed November 24 deadline, as few advancements have been made during the current round of talks in Oman. The Wall Street Journal has more on the effects of another extension.
The Wall Street Journal also reports that Moscow has signed an agreement with Tehran to build two more nuclear reactors “at the Russian-built Bushehr plant in Iran.”
Yesterday, top NATO commander U.S. General Philip Breedlove affirmed that Russia has been reinforcing its bases in the disputed territory of Crimea. According to the AP, it is unclear if this support includes nuclear weapons.
Reuters reports that shelling in eastern Ukraine has put increased pressure on the crumbling ceasefire signed by the Ukrainian government and separatist forces earlier this fall.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Jordan today. According to Reuters, Secretary Kerry will speak with Jordanian King Abdullah about tensions in nearby Jerusalem and the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State.
The Post examines the number of travel miles (602,320!) that Secretary Kerry has already logged while in office so far.
Following the conclusion of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, President Barack Obama travels to Myanmar, where democratic transitions have stalled, following ethnic tensions between Buddhists and Muslims there. McClatchy has more on the situation there.
According to an unidentified Pakistani security official, a U.S. drone strike in North Waziristan killed six foreign militants yesterday. The Times has the story.
The Post informs us that Marines withdrawing from Afghanistan are working on “stripping bases to the basics.” Aware of the limitations of the Afghan Army and fearful of allowing U.S. equipment to later fall into the hands of militants, as happened with the Islamic State in Iraq, American forces are destroying or removing infrastructure, leaving “bare-bones” bases.
The AP explains how the Diplomatic Security Service is training to stop the next Benghazi.
U.S. soldiers are suing a number of big name banks, including Barclays, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Credit Suisse, Standard Chartered, and Bank Saderat for conspiring with Iran “to withhold certain data from transactions, enabling them to circumvent monitoring by U.S. regulators.” The soldiers allege that these actions allowed Iran to funnel at least $150 million to militant groups, which then carried out attacks against U.S. forces. Bloomberg reports the story.
The Times examines autonomous weapons systems and the regulation of them. Here at Lawfare, Matt Waxman and Ken Anderson highlight their recent article, which argues that “with proper international and national-level processes, emergent autonomous weapon systems can be effectively regulated within the existing law of armed conflict framework.”
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