Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Garrett Hinck
Tuesday, September 26, 2017, 1:50 PM

The White House denied that the U.S. has declared war on North Korea. Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders called the accusation from North Korea’s foreign minister that a tweet from President Trump was a declaration of war “absurd,” the BBC reported. Sanders also responded to North Korea’s threat to shoot down U.S. warplanes near its territory in international airspace, saying that such an action is “never appropriate.” In addition, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster said that a diplomatic process that would let North Korea to keep its nuclear weapons is not possible at this moment, according to the New York Times. McMaster said the U.S. does not want to “lock in the status quo as the new normal.”

On Monday, the Supreme Court canceled oral arguments on Executive Order 13780, the revised ‘travel ban,’ one day after the Trump administration announced new restrictions on travel from nine countries, the Times reported. The Court asked both sides to brief the justices on whether Sunday’s proclamation renders the case moot. It is possible that the Court will decline to hear the case, raising questions about the validity of lower court rulings on the ban. The administration is likely to ask the court to vacate the appeals court ruling that struck down the ban, while their opponents will ask that it stay on the books. The new travel ban will take effect on October 18.

Iraq’s neighbors threatened military action after an independence referendum for Iraqi Kurdistan concluded on Monday, the Times reported. Turkey and Iran are conducting military exercises near the Iraqi border, and Baghdad announced it would coordinate military drills with Ankara. Iraq’s parliament asked Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to send the Iraqi Army to seize disputed lands held by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened to cut off a key oil pipeline from Iraqi Kurdistan that provides nearly 40% of the KRG’s revenue, the Wall Street Journal reported. KRG President Masoud Barzani offered to open negotiations with Baghdad about the referendum results, but the Iraqi prime minister refused to hold any talks, according to Reuters.

U.S. officials said that they were not able to confirm that Iran tested a ballistic missile over the weekend, CNN reported. American radar and sensor systems “picked up no indication” of Iran’s claimed launch of the Khorramshahr missile, which it unveiled at a military parade hours before. White House officials said that Iranian television appeared to show a rerun of a previous launch. President Trump said on Twitter on Saturday that Iran had fired a missile capable of reaching Israel and that Iran was working North Korea, facts he used to call the Iran nuclear deal into question. Separately, the ambassadors from Britain, France, Germany, and the European Union called for the U.S. to remain in the nuclear deal, Reuters reported.

Russian officials blamed U.S. policies for the death of a Russian general in Syria at the hands of the Islamic State, Al Jazeera reported. The Russian deputy foreign minister said the U.S.’s “two-faced policy” in Syria led to the death of General Valery Asapov during shelling from the Islamic State near Deir al-Zour. Russia denied targeting the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in airstrikes near that area, saying its surveillance did not show any SDF fighters in the area. The Russian Defense Ministry also denied that its airstrikes in Idlib province in northwestern Syria killed civilians on Monday, Reuters reported. Turkey’s Foreign Minister criticized Moscow for the indiscriminate nature of bombing campaign in Idlib.

A Palestinian gunman killed three members of Israel’s security forces at a checkpoint in the West Bank, the Journal reported. After the attacker fired on Israeli security forces at close range, they returned fire, killing him at the scene. Hamas hailed the attack as a new phase in a violent struggle against Israel. Hundreds of Palestinians have launched individual attacks in Israel since 2015, killing dozens of Israelis. The Palestinian Authority (PA), which controls the West Bank, began negotiations weeks ago with Hamas to return control of Gaza to the PA.

The U.S. will announce restrictions on Russian military flights over American territory, according to the Journal. U.S. officials say that Russia has violated the Open Skies Treaty, which permits aerial observation of other nations’ territories, by imposing restrictions on flights over Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea. The Russian restrictions prevent full observation of what American officials suspect to be a significant military build-up in Kaliningrad. The U.S. delegation to the Open Skies Treaty is expected to announce reciprocal measures at a treaty meeting in Vienna on Tuesday.

ICYMI: Yesterday, on Lawfare

Oona Hathaway and Scott Shapiro highlighted what they viewed as misconceptions about the argument of their new book, The Internationalists.

Elizabeth McElvein discussed the polling data on U.S. military action against North Korea.

Julian Ku and Chris Mirasola evaluated China’s new legal doctrine for expanding its sovereignty claims in the South China Sea.

Russell Spivak summarized the Trump administration’s changes to the travel ban.

Samm Sacks and Paul Triolo analyzed the implications of China’s new regulations on online identity and privacy for anonymity on the Internet.

Mailyn Fidler and Tiffany Lin summarized their primer on cross-border data flows and the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty system.

Peter Margulies argued that the travel ban proclamation undermines the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Josh Blackman argued that the travel ban proclamation will lead courts to uphold the constitutionality of the ban.

Shannon Togawa Mercer discussed the implications of Germany’s election results for NATO, U.S.-Russia relations, and the EU.

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