Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Garrett Hinck
Wednesday, September 6, 2017, 1:19 PM

Russian President Vladimir Putin rejected a U.S. proposal to cut off fuel supplies to North Korea in a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday, according to the New York Times. Putin said that sanctions would not persuade North Korea to stop its nuclear testing. The U.S. is pushing for a global embargo on oil exports to North Korea at the U.N. Security Council. Instead, Putin called for the U.S. and South Korea to stop their joint military exercises in exchange for a North Korean moratorium on testing. Moon took a stronger line, saying that North Korea must stop its provocations as a precondition of dialogue, according to Yonhap.

The United States and South Korea announced they have nearly completed deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Aerial Defense (THAAD) system, the Times reported on Wednesday. The missile defense system is designed to protect American and South Korean troops from North Korean missile attacks. China has stridently opposed this measure, arguing it undermines its own nuclear deterrent. Moon Jae-in initially put the deployment on hold but resumed it after North Korea’s ballistic missile tests last month.

Leaders of Muslim-majority countries condemned Myanmar’s crackdown against its Rohingya population, CNN reported on Tuesday. The leaders of Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Pakistan all expressed their concerns about Myanmar’s treatment of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority group that the government describes as stateless migrants. Western countries have been reluctant to condemn Myanmar’s leadership, including its de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, because of her reputation as a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Bangladesh also lodged a formal diplomatic complaint saying that Myanmar had laid landmines along its border, Reuters reported. Bangladeshi sources suggested that security forces laid the landmines to block the tens of thousands of displaced Rohingya that have attempted to flee across the border in recent weeks. Myanmar’s military has not yet publicly commented.

The European Court of Justice rejected an attempt by Hungary and Slovakia to avoid accepting refugees under a European Union-wide policy, the Washington Post reported. Hungary and Slovakia took legal action to annul a 2015 agreement for EU countries to relocate 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy. In a victory for countries with large refugee populations, such as Germany and Greece, the ECJ said that Hungary and Slovakia had to comply with the policy. The EU Migration Commissioner warned countries that have refused to take refugees that they could now face fines if they do not meet their obligations.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley criticized the Iran nuclear deal in a public lecture on Tuesday, the Post reported. Haley suggested that Iran is not fully complying with the terms of the agreement. These criticisms may signal that Haley would support President Trump if he refused to certify that Iran is complying with the provisions of the deal, a move which would trigger a congressional review of the agreement. These steps would pave the way for U.S. withdrawal from the accord. President Trump will have the opportunity to make the finding next month during the deal’s mandated quarterly certification of compliance.

Symantec warned that a hacking group compromised U.S. and European energy companies in a cyber espionage campaign, according to Reuters. Symantec’s threat researchers found that dozens of energy companies in the U.S., Turkey, and Switzerland were compromised by a hacking group called Dragonfly. Although Symantec did not name Russia as the culprit, research done by other cybersecurity firms in 2014 on Dragonfly tied it to the Russian government. The report comes amid rising concerns about the vulnerabilities of utility companies to malicious cyber sabotage operations.

A U.N. investigation confirmed on Wednesday that Syria conducted the sarin gas attack that took place this April, the Post reported. The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria determined from satellite images, video, photos, and interviews that the Syrian Air Force used chemical weapons at Khan Sheikhoun in April. The Commission described the attacks as war crimes. The U.S. retaliated against the Syrian Air Force shortly after the attack.

Egypt will participate in war games with the U.S. this month, resuming after an 8-year break, the Post reported. The ‘Bright Star’ joint-exercises dated back to 1981, but the Obama administration stopped its participation after the 2011 Arab Spring uprising and the 2013 coup. Only 200 American troops will take part. Last month, the U.S. cut $300 million in military and economic aid to Egypt over human rights concerns.

Brazil’s attorney general charged former presidents former presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff with running a criminal corruption organization, the Times reported on Tuesday. The charges allege that senior officials of the Workers’ Party ran a massive corruption operation that amassed hundreds of millions of reais in bribes. They personally implicate Rousseff, who was impeached last year, in a corruption scandal that has affected every Brazilian political party.

U.N. investigators accused Burundi’s leaders of committing crimes against humanity, the Times reported on Monday. The U.N. human rights investigation said that President Pierre Nkurunziza’s security forces executed hundreds of people and detained thousands more in the aftermath of a failed coup in 2015. The panel documented numerous cases of abuse and torture and linked the violence to high-ranking government officials. Its report will be presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council, which includes Burundi as a member.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Matthew Waxman examined the origins of Charles Evans Hughes’ dictum ‘the power to wage war is the power to wage war successfully’ and its relevance today.

J. Dana Stuster posted the Middle East Ticker, covering IAEA review of the Iran nuclear deal, the rebel coalition in Yemen, and the dispute over the Islamic State convoy in Syria.

Paul Rosenzweig flagged the Klobuchar-Graham NDAA amendment on protecting electoral cybersecurity infrastructure.

Timothy Edgar introduced his new book: “Beyond Snowden: Privacy, Mass Surveillance and the Struggle to Reform the NSA” and Lawfare’s upcoming series of essays responding to the book.

Rosenzweig wrote the first essay responding to “Beyond Snowden,” outlining his disagreements with Edgar and cautioning against expanding transparency for transparency’s sake.

Mieke Eoyang highlighted how Edgar’s book portrays the different policy communities involved in debates about privacy and surveillance.

John Bellinger flagged Jennifer Newstead’s nomination as State Department Legal Advisor.

Robert Chesney shared the announcement for the Mike Lewis Prize for National Security Law Scholarship.

Stewart Baker posted the Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast, featuring an interview with Michael Mainelli.

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