This Week in War

I’m a little late since this was supposed to be written last week but here it is:

This is what has happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs last week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism (as was said before)

January 30th 2015

  • At least ten people were killed in Tripoli, Libya, when gunmen linked to the Islamic stormed the Corinthia Hotel. One of the dead is an American Marine Corps veteran, David Berry, who was working as a security contractor.
  • Libya’s peace talks resumed, absent the main rival government in Tripoli.
  • A suicide attack in the Malian town of Tabankort killed five.
  • On Thursday, militants attacked more than a dozen targets in the Sinai peninsula, simultaneously striking army and police targets with mortar rounds and a car bomb. 26 security officers were killed.
  • Boko Haram made key moves in Nigeria last weekend, centering a series of attacks in the northeast and launching an attack on the capital of Borno state, Maiduguri.
  • Zakariya Ismail Hersi, Al-Shabab’s intelligence chief, has resigned his post and left the militant group, reportedly renouncing its violence.
  • President Salva Kiir and his rival Riek Machar met for the latest round ofnegotiations attempting to bring South Sudan’s year of civil war to an end.
  • Hundreds of thousands of children living in Gaza need treatment for post-traumatic stress as a consequence of this past summer’s bombardments.
  • The Kurdish People’s Protection Units and the Free Syrian Army havewon out in the embattled Syrian town of Kobani, where a months-long fight has finally ousted the Islamic State.
  • Foreign Affairs interviewed Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
  • Talks between the Syrian government and the opposition have endedwith only an agreement to hold another round of negotiations at an unnamed later date.
  • Despite their supposed strategic importance, several formerly favored Syrian rebel groups have had their cash flow from the CIA cut off or greatly reduced, either without warning or as punishment for poor performance.
  • The Washington Posillustrates the flow of foreign fighters into Syria.
  • One of two Japanese hostages held by the Islamic State, Haruna Yukawa, has been beheaded by the group. The life of the other hostage, Kenji Goto, hangs in the balance alongside the life of Jordanian pilot Moaz Al-Kasasbeh. The Jordanian government has agreed to the Islamic State’s new demand to release imprisoned would-be suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi, but only if they can be sure Al-Kasasbeh will be returned.
  • The first US drone strike in Yemen since the government’s resignationkilled three Al-Qaeda operatives.
  • This morning (Friday), the Islamic State attacked Kurdish forces at Kirkuk and killed 21 in bombings in Baghdad and Samarra.
  • A Shi’ite militia supporting the Iraqi security forces reportedly committed a horrible massacre in a Sunni village in eastern Iraq, slaughtering at least 72 people. Iraq’s prime minister has ordered an investigation.
  • Three were killed in border fighting between Hezbollah and Israeli forces.
  • Three American contractors were killed in Kabul on Thursday night in an attack claimed by the Taliban.
  • In Khost, 24,000 Pakistani refugees are living on top of an old Afghan battlefield still laced with mujahideen anti-tank mines.
  • A spokesman for the Islamic State has officially announced the group’s expansion into the “Khorasan,” also known as Afghanistan.
  • The quarterly report for the Special Inspector General on Afghanistan Reconstruction is information-rich as usual. This time the Resolute Support Mission has classified assessments of the Afghan National Security Forces, information that in previous years had been publicly reported and used by SIGAR in evaluating American support for and training of the ANSF.
  • Twenty people were killed Friday in an explosion at a Shi’ite mosque in Shikarpur, Pakistan.
  • The Sri Lankan government has promised to release hundreds of Tamil detainees and return Tamil land seized by the government.
  • Peace talks between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front have been jeopardized after insurgent clashes with police commandos left 44 commandos dead.
  • Drone footage shows the extent of the damage done to Donetsk airport.
  • A soldier’s act of mercy on the Ukrainian battlefield has gone viral.
  • Russia has made threatening statements directed at Kiev, saying Ukrainian military action would result in “inevitable further escalation of the conflict.”
  • Ukrainian pilot Nadia Savchenko, captured by pro-Russian separatists in June and then put in Russian custody, is entering the seventh week of her hunger strike — RFE/RL breaks down what it means to be on a hunger strike.
  • The British have begun an inquiry into the death of ex-KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, a Kremlin critic who won asylum in Britain but diedin 2006 after drinking tea laced with polonium 210.
  • Former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling was convicted of espionage for leaking information to the press about Operation Merlin, a secret operation targeting the Iranian nuclear program.
  • The US obtained a charter list of 170 Al Qaeda original members in the first months of the Afghanistan invasion. After 13 years, the document has finally been made public as part of the trial of Khaled al-Fawwaz.
  • At Lawfare and Just Security, lawyers had a very interesting exchange regarding the debate over closing Guantánamo: Benjamin WittesRaha Wala and Steve Vladeck weighed in.
  • Cuban President Raul Castro is asking that, among other things, the US return Guantánamo as part of normalizing relations.
  • The ACLU has filed an emergency motion in federal court to block Senator Richard Burr from repossessing copies of the full Senate torture report originally distributed to the White House. (ACLU v. CIA)
  • Two newly-declassified court rulings by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in 2007 show the NSA’s shadow moves to empower itself to wiretap prior to Congressional approval.
  • The DOJ has been working on a database that allows it to track movement of vehicles around the US in realtime.
  • Google discloses, after three years, that it handed over emails and data to the US government for three Wikileaks staffers after a federal judge issued a secret search warrant.
  • According to newly released Snowden documents, Canada’s Communications Security Establishment is tracking millions of global uploads and downloads daily in an operation called Levitation.
  • The Pentagon will propose a FY2016 budget of $585 billion, a $38 billion increase in spending from this year.
  • Three Russians living in New York City were charged with working for Russian intelligence.

    Kurdish fighters in Kobane

    Photo: Kobane, Syria. A member of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Defense Units walks amidst some of the town’s destruction. January 28th. Credit: Sedat Suna/EPA.

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