This Week in War

This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.

  • Kenyan parliament passed a contested, controversial counterterrorism bill — the bill allows extended detention without charge, removes checks and balances on the presidency and empowers the domestic intelligence agency to carry out covert operations.
  • According to charity Save the Children, the number of child soldiers in the Central African Republic has more than doubled since last year. 6000-10000 boys and girls are now part of the fighting there.
  • Tens of thousands of people have died this year in conflict in South Sudan.
  • South Sudan has hired Erik Prince of Blackwater fame to help repair oil facilities damaged by the year of war.
  • In Sierra Leone, Ebola’s tragedy occurs in the shadow of past conflict.
  • Boko Haram has kidnapped 185 women and children, and killed 32 people, in the town of Gumsuri in northeastern Nigeria.
  • Palestinians have convinced other Arab diplomats to support their UN draft resolution that includes a timeline for Israeli troop withdrawals, negotiation deadlines and outlines Palestinian statehood.
  • The European Union has removed Hamas from its terrorist organizations list.
  • 230 bodies believed to be victims of the Islamic State were found in a mass grave in the Syrian city of Deir al-Zour.
  • The UN is appealing for $8.4 billion in aid for Syria from the international community.
  • The US penalized companies providing fuel and oil to the Syrian government.
  • Al Nusrah Front and Ahrar al-Sham have made advances against the Syrian regime in the northwestern province of Idlib. A forty-eight hour battle over two bases left 180 dead all told.
  • A suicide bombing in central Yemen, aimed at a Shia militia leader, killed 25 — including 15 schoolchildren.
  • Inside the race to save Peter Kassig.
  • The Islamic State retook Baiji after Iraqi forces retreated to a nearby oil refinery.
  • Kurdish forces say they have claimed a major victory, breaking the Islamic State’s siege of Mount Sinjar.
  • The Pentagon also says they have killed a number of the group’s leaders in air strikes. This December, 97% of strikes were carried out by US planes, not by other allied forces.
  • The Afghan Taliban publicly condemned the Pakistani Taliban’s attack.
  • Afghanistan’s spy chief has said the absence of American and NATO forces has left an intelligence vacuum.
  • The Taliban’s attacks in Afghanistan have also surged as the combat mission ends.
  • European Union election observers confirm that there was extensive fraud in this year’s Afghan elections.
  • The Pakistani Taliban killed 141 people, the vast majority of whom were children, in a vicious attack on an army public school in Peshawar. Three days of mourning were declared, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif brought back the death penalty in terrorism cases.
  • A Q and A about the Pakistani Taliban’s origins.
  • Air strikes and ground operations carried out by the army on Thursday and Friday in the northwest of Pakistan have so far killed 59 militants.
  • Veteran diplomat Robin Raphel is now embroiled in an FBI counterintelligence investigation into whether or not she gave classified information to Pakistan.
  • Economic turmoil in Russia could pressure Putin over Ukraine. The US is further increasing the strain by stepping up sanctions on Russia’s defense, energy and banking industries.
  • The US and Cuba “cut loose the shackles of the past” and began to restore their diplomatic relationship after fifty years. The first step was a prisoner exchange, in which State Department contractor Alan Gross returned home — as did Rolando Sarraff Trujillo — a vital CIA mole in Cuban intelligence in prison for over twenty years.
  • The FARC rebels in Colombia have declared a unilateral ceasefire beginning the 20th — a ceasefire they say is indefinite, and can turn depending on the government. The government, however, has snubbed the ceasefire.
  • A 16-hour hostage situation in a Sydney café ended with two dead hostages, and a dead gunman — Man Haron Monis.
  • Ten Bosnian Serb security officials during the war have been arrested on war crimes charges.
  • The UK’s defense minister has said that women could have combat roles in the British Army as early as 2016.
  • The body of man who was killed in a mass shooting in West Belfast by British troops in 1971 will be exhumed as part of an inquest into the events.
  • After the Sony hack escalated with threats, the studio cancelled the release of The Interview. The hack has been publicly attributed to North Korea, but WIRED cautions that such attribution is extremely difficult and evidence is actually thin.
  • The CIA chose speed and haste when it adopted the interrogation methods that amounted to torture, pushing aside debate and hiring the psychologists who designed the program without vetting.
  • Abu Zubaydah — through his lawyer — reacts to the release of the report.
  • Melville House is publishing the report in book form.
  • An attorney for Guantánamo inmate Mustafa al-Hawsawi, an accused 9/11 plotter who was reportedly thrown to the ground by guards this month, has beenrebuffed in his bid to get urgent medical care for his client.
  • The US has asked the Vatican for assistance in finding “humanitarian solutions” for transferring Guantánamo inmates.
  • A pre-trial hearing was held for Boston bomber Dzokhar Tsarnaev.
  • Experts gathered in Berlin to discuss how to protect the cultural artifacts of threatened countries like Syria.


Photo: Aleppo, Syria. A rebel fighter keeps lookout. Karam AlMasri/Nur Photo/Rex

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