Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen is falling apart after separatists seized and then withdrew (AP) from select portions of the southern port city of Aden this weekend.
International Crisis Group’s warning: “the risks of a civil war within a civil war are higher than ever, and that urgent international action is needed,” Peter Salisbury explains today.
The quick read: “The separatist leader, Southern Transitional Council President Aidaroos al-Zubaidi, said his group still supports the coalition against the Houthis and would attend a proposed emergency summit in Saudi Arabia,” Reuters reports today from Aden. “But he did not commit to withdrawing his forces from government buildings they seized on Saturday after clashes that killed 40 people, including civilians.”
Riyadh’s reax was to “hit a separatist area on Sunday,” Reuters writes, without specifying the method of attack, “and vowed to carry out more attacks if the southerners did not withdraw.”
Otherwise, Saudi King Salman and his son, MBS, spent the weekend chatting with Yemen’s exiled leader, President Hadi.
Bigger picture view now: “The rift in the coalition complicates U.N. efforts to implement a stalled peace deal in the main port city of Hodeidah to pave the way for broader political talks to end the war. The southern separatists and UAE forces played a major role on the ground in a coalition attempt to seize Hodeidah and cut off supply lines to Houthi-held areas.”
In Iraq, the war on ISIS claimed the life of another U.S. service member over the weekend. U.S. Marine Corps “Gunnery Sergeant Scott A. Koppenhafer, 35, of Mancos, Colorado, died August 10, 2019, after being engaged by enemy small arms fire while conducting combat operations” in northern Iraq’s Nineveh province, the Defense Department announced Sunday.
Koppenhafer was a 10-year Marine special operator, and had been awarded the MARSOC Critical Skills Operator of the Year in 2018, Military.com reports. He leaves behind a wife and two children.
For the record, “Koppenhafer is the third U.S. service member to die this year in hostile circumstances” in the war on ISIS, Military.com writes, “and the eighth OIR casualty overall for 2019.”
Afghan peace negotiations: The U.S. and the Taliban ended their latest round of talks — with no deal reached and “both sides [saying] they would consult with their leaderships on the next steps,” AP reports today from Kabul.
From Defense One
3-Star General: Tomorrow’s Troops Need Controversial JEDI Cloud // Patrick Tucker: Days after the new SecDef put a hold on the massive cloud program, two Pentagon leaders went on the record to defend it.
Here’s What Foreign Interference Will Look Like in 2020 // Uri Friedman, The Atlantic: The incentives for foreign countries to meddle are much greater than in 2016, and the tactics could look dramatically different.
Stop the Slaughter of Our Children With These Weapons of War // Mike Mullen, The Atlantic: Assault weapons are designed to kill as many people as possible in the shortest time possible. They are for war; they are not for sport.
No One’s Going to Be Happy Giving Up Land to Fight Climate Change // Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic: Here are seven ways of understanding the IPCC’s newest climate warning.
At Guadalcanal, the US Won Through Cost Imposition. Our Adversaries Do Much the Same Today // Benjamin Jensen and Brig. Gen. William Bowers, The Conversation: The WWII battle has plenty to teach us about 21st-century conflict.
Welcome to this Monday edition of The D Brief from Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. If you’re not a D Brief subscriber, sign up here. On this day in 1941, U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill met aboard naval ships in Newfoundland’s Placentia Bay. Those discussions gave us the Atlantic Charter, the founding document of what today we call the “liberal international order.”
North Korea fired off two more missiles on Friday — and cited Donald Trump’s sympathetic words as justification.
The pair were apparently short-range ballistic missiles, which if confirmed “would be a breach of 11 UN Security Council resolutions,” the BBC reported. The pair flew about 250 miles and landed in the sea west of Japan.
This was the fifth rocket test since June. Of an earlier test in the series, Bloomberg wrote, “The launch was part of a series of steps by Kim that appeared intended to communicate frustration with the U.S. in the wake of his historic June 30 meeting with Trump at the Demilitarized Zone.”
The U.S. president responded to the news by calling U.S-South Korean joint military exercises “ridiculous and expensive,” in tweets from the first day of his planned 10-day golfing vacation in New Jersey.
Trump “repeatedly has insisted that North Korea has not been testing ballistic missiles, although his own officials — as well as key European and Asian allies — have said that some of the missiles have indeed been ballistic.” (The president has a history of saying things that are not true.)
North Korea, for its part, cited Trump’s earlier statements. “Even the US president made a remark which in effect recognizes the self-defensive rights of a sovereign state, saying that it is a small missile test which a lot of countries do,” said Kwon Jong Gun, director-general for American affairs at the foreign ministry, in a statement carried by KCNA. (Via Quartz.)
Russian officials admit that last week’s deadly military accident was nuclear-related, confirming what U.S.-based nuclear scientists suspected (Reuters) as late as Friday.
Today, a memorial service was held for five of the scientists killed in the accident “after an official at their research institute suggested they had been working on developing a small nuclear reactor,” Reuters reports this morning from Moscow.
The entity said to be involved: The Russian Federal Nuclear Centre, near the “closed city” of Sarov.
Here’s an illuminating Twitter thread from the Center for Nonproliferation Studies’ Sarah Bidgood explaining the U.S. side’s apparent known-knowns amid all the Russian messaging.
Russian-accented men have been threatening the wives and girlfriends of Dutch NATO pilots, Dutch media reported late last week. And those pilots had one thing in common: They’d been protecting the Baltics on NATO’s air policing mission.
And protests in Moscow — like the ones Russia wants Google via YouTube to stop letting people know have been happening for several weeks now? Those protests have been growing to about 47,000 people, which is about double the number from a few weeks ago, tweeted FT’s Max Seddon on Saturday.
One way Russian protesters have responded to the surge of riot police for the growing protests in Moscow: by Photoshopping those same riot police into classical works of art.
Bonus behavior from Russian riot police: Breaking into an opposition candidate’s office ahead of Saturday’s rally in Moscow. Fortunately the candidate, Lyubov Sobol, recorded the scene, which was preserved on Twitter by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Meanwhile, China is linking protests in Hong Kong to “the first signs of terrorism,” the Wall Street Journal reports this morning from Beijing.
Why the protests? As “opposition to a bill allowing extradition to the mainland but have widened to highlight other grievances, drawing broad support” in the days since, Reuters reports. “Demonstrators say they are fighting the erosion of the ‘one country, two systems’ arrangement enshrining some autonomy for Hong Kong when China took it back from Britain in 1997. They are demanding the resignation of the city’s leader, Carrie Lam, and an independent investigation into the handling of the protests.”
For its part, “Beijing says criminals and agitators are stirring violence, encouraged by ‘interfering’ foreign powers, including Britain.”
Over the weekend, “Scores of protesters were arrested, sometimes after being beaten with batons and bloodied by police.” And overall, “Police have arrested more than 600 people since the unrest began more than two months ago.”
Some of the things protesters are chanting: “No rioters, only tyranny!” and “Liberate Hong Kong!”
Some of the things protesters are throwing at police, according to the Journal: Molotov cocktails, bricks, and smoke bombs.
Hong Kong’s airport cancelled all flights for today, as some 5,000 protesters occupied the arrivals section for a fourth consecutive day.
Worth noting: “China’s People’s Armed Police also assembled in the neighboring city of Shenzhen for exercises,” Reuters writes. Read on — and stay to the end for the Bruce Lee reference — here.
Careful traveling to Egypt, especially if you’ve said something critical of the government on Facebook. A Pennsylvania teacher who is also a dual U.S.-Egyptian national, Reem Mohamed Desouky, was jailed in July when she visited Egypt with her son, the Washington Post reported late last week.
What’s going on: “Egyptian authorities have charged Desouky with administering social media accounts deemed critical of the regime. But officials have not disclosed what offending posts, if any, led to her arrest. One Facebook page from which Desouky shared posts, according to her supporters, is a forum mostly about social and economic conditions in Egypt.”
About those social conditions: They extend from a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood movement by the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sissi. That crackdown has jailed “tens of thousands of [alleged Muslim Brotherhood] members. Basic freedoms have been stifled and the government has engaged in torture, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests and forced disappearances of critics,” the Post writes.
So far, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo says it’s looking into the matter and won’t say anymore until it has something to say publicly. Oh and when her brother went to visit her in jail last week, he, too, was jailed.
At least two other Americans are also being held in Egypt on presumed political charges (Khaled Hassan and Moustafa Kassem), according to Human Rights Watch’s Amr Magdi. More here.
A right-wing sympathizer tried to shoot up a mosque in Oslo, Norway, this weekend (AP), but was overcome by congregants before the massacre started. CNN has the story, and what we learned afterward, here.
And finally today: In Baghdad, “only the rich can escape the unbearable heat,” The Independent reported this weekend. That may seem like a local problem, brought on by a “combination of corruption, mismanagement and a creaking national grid.” But it’s one more strain on a country only recently freed from ISIS and still gripped by political, sectarian, and tribal conflicts.
Increasingly dangerous temperatures will cause political instability, says Mahmoud Abdul Latif Hamed, a weather forecaster and manager of environment at Iraq’s Meteorological Organisation: “I expect that if the issue isn’t fixed, it will bring down the government.”
And Iraq’s hardly alone. Much of the world is subject to increasingly unbearable heat, The Independent notes: “Soon, thanks to climate change, it will be everywhere.”
France, for example, has “recorded between 500 and 3,500 excess deaths from extreme heat each summer” since 2015.
July’s record-breaking heatwave killed some 400 people in the Netherlands, boosting the country’s death rate by an astounding 15 percent for one week.
And “Britain faces 7,000 heat-related deaths every year by 2050 unless action is taken,” triple today’s average, the British parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee warned a year ago.