Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Garrett Hinck
Monday, November 13, 2017, 12:38 PM

President Donald Trump praised his “great relationship” with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte after meeting with him during a summit in Manila, the New York Times reported. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the two leaders discussed trade, terrorism and combating illegal drug trade. Sanders maintained that Trump brought up human rights briefly when discussing the Philippines’ crackdown on illegal drugs, but Duterte’s spokesperson denied that they broached the subject. Human rights groups have accused Duterte of organizing a campaign of extrajudicial killings in his war on drugs.

Saad Hariri, the recently resigned prime minister of Lebanon, promised to return to Beirut “soon” from Saudi Arabia, the Washington Post reported. In live interview from Riyadh, Hariri said he was “free” to travel where he wishes, contradicting suggestions that the Saudi government was holding him captive. Michel Aoun, Lebanon’s president, reacted positively to Hariri’s statement that he would return to Beirut, Reuters reported. Aoun also raised the possibility that Hariri could rescind his resignation. Hariri has yet to officially present his resignation to Aoun, a legal formality required to leave his post.

The top U.S. Air Force commander in the Middle East said Iran likely manufactured the missile that Yemeni rebels fired at the Riyadh airport last week, the AP reported. Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian backed Saudi Arabia’s accusation that Iran supplied the missile to Houthi rebels fighting a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen. The coalition said on Monday that it would begin reopening Yemen’s ports after closing them in response to the missile strike, the Post reported. However, the coalition will keep the main entry point for desperately-needed food and health supplies into the country closed until it can verify that no weapons are entering the country, according to Reuters.

European leaders agreed on a new defense pact to strengthen military cooperation within the European Union, the Wall Street Journal reported. As Britain prepares to exit the EU, 23 of the remaining EU members reached an accord on sharing military logistical resources and joint emergency response forces. Separately, EU foreign ministers approved economic sanctions and an arms embargo on Venezuela, according to Reuters. The measures respond to irregularities in recent elections and political chaos that has engulfed the country.

Iraqi and Kurdish leaders are engaging in informal diplomacy to resolve the crisis over control of Iraqi Kurdistan’s border crossings, the Times reports. While formal talks have broken down, officials in Baghdad and Erbil are exchanging daily phone calls to avoid further clashes between Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

Israel will continue to strike targets in Syria despite U.S. and Russian efforts to reach a local ceasefire accord, Reuters reported. Israel said it would not refrain from striking Iranian-linked forces, including Hezbollah, that come near its positions on the Golan Heights. Last week, the U.S. and Russia announced they would expand a local ceasefire near the Israeli frontier in Syria that is meant to separate rival factions fighting in the civil war. Israeli officials said the accord did not adequately prevent Iranian-liked forces from approaching Israel’s borders.

The murdered Green Beret in Mali discovered that two Navy SEALs he was working with were siphoning money from an intelligence fund to pay informants, the Daily Beast reported. The two SEALs falsely claimed that the Green Beret, Sgt. Logan Melgar, was drunk before he was found asphyxiated in his hotel room. An investigation into Melgar’s death found he had no substances in his body.

YouTube took down thousands of videos of Al-Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki, the Times reported. After allowing al-Awlaki’s content to persist on its platform for years, YouTube dramatically reduced the amount of the cleric’s preachings available to the public, including many lectures not specifically related to terrorism.

North Korean forces fired on one of their own soldiers as attempted to defect to South Korea, according to the Times. The soldier, despite being shot, managed to cross the demilitarized zone and reach South. He is now at a South Korean hospital.

The Times’ Scott Shane, Nicole Perlroth and David Sanger wrote about the devastating effect of recent malware leaks on operations and morale at the National Security Agency.

ICYMI: This (Holiday) Weekend on Lawfare

Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes discussed the revelation that the special counsel is investigating whether Michael Flynn worked with Turkish officials to kidnap or extradite Fethullah Gulen to Turkey.

Wittes posted a special edition of the Lawfare Podcast covering the Flynn story.

Benjamin Wittes shared the “Mr. Page Goes to Washington” edition of Rational Security.

In the Foreign Policy Essay, Dave Blair and Karen House argued that drone warfare is morally and psychologically hazardous to its operators.

Vanessa Sauter posted the Lawfare Podcast, featuring an interview between Alina Polyakova and Andrei Soldatov on Russian influence operations.

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