Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Clara Spera
Monday, April 20, 2015, 10:41 AM

The Islamic State released a video on Sunday in which militants from the extremist group are seen killing a group of Ethiopian Christians. The video originated in Libya, and the group of Ethiopian Christians were likely trying to reach Europe. Reuters has the details.

The video was released just one day after IS claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Jalalabad, Afghanistan that killed at least 35 people. The attack was carried out in front of bank in a crowded part of the city and, according to Time, wounded more than 100 people.

In light of the heightened threat the Islamic State poses to Afghan security, President Ashraf Ghani has turned to his neighbor to the west--Iran--to build a security cooperation agreement against the Islamic State. Agence France-Presse reports that the new collation could include joint military operations. Iranian President Rouhani said: "We need intelligence sharing and, if necessary, cooperation in operations because the problems that exist are not restricted and gradually spread throughout the region, affecting everyone."

Iran has also reached across the globe to build an IS-fighting coalition with Australia. Al Jazeera explains that Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced a new relationship between Australian and Iran during her visit to Iran, the first in a decade by an Australian official.

The International Business Times tells us that Sunday at least six people were arrested in Minneapolis and San Diego on suspicion of supporting ISIS. The U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota, Andrew Luger, stated that those arrested did not pose a “threat to public safety,” but refused to disclose further details. A press conference is scheduled for later today.

As a deal for the sale of U.S.-made predator drones to the United Arab Emirates approaches final approval, the New York Times takes a look at the historic practice of American companies selling arms to Arab nations. With sectarian violence, terrorist activity, and proxy wars in the Middle East continuing to define the region, the demand for American “military hardware” is in higher demand than ever before. The Times explains:” The result is a boom for American defense contractors looking for foreign business in an era of shrinking Pentagon budgets — but also the prospect of a dangerous new arms race in a region where the map of alliances has been sharply redrawn.”

The United States and the Philippines today launched a 10-day war games military exercise, the two countries’ largest combined military operation in fifteen years. Reuters explains that the “Balikatan” (meaning shoulder-to-shoulder) exercise is twice as large as last year’s equivalent, and comes in the face of China’s reclamation and island-building activities in the South China Sea.

Shane Harris has written a piece in the Daily Beast analyzing Pentagon general counsel Stephen Preston’s recent remarks at the American Society for International Law. Harris argues that Preston’s words are in tension with some of President Obama’s declarations in December 2014 announcing that the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan is over. Jack also commented on Preston’s speech on Friday.

The Wall Street Journal is host to an online text-only debate on the topic “should law enforcement have the ability to access encrypted communications?Lawfare’s Carrie Cordero defends the idea, while Marc Zwillinger stands firmly against.

Meanwhile, Agence France-Press sat with the new privacy and security chief at Google, Gerhard Eschelbeck, who is a big proponent of encrypting users’ data.

ICYMI: This Weekend, on Lawfare

Daniel Byman and Jennifer Williams penned this week’s Foreign Policy Essay, discussing the future of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).

Jack delved into Andrew McCarthy’s criticisms of Senator Corker’s Iran Review Bill, arguing that McCarthy’s criticisms are, generously put, misguided.

In our most recent podcast episode, we highlighted Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent visit to Brookings, discussion the current priorities and future prospects for U.S. engagement in Central Asia.

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