N. Korea fires sea-based missile; China shows new weapons; Turkey plans Syrian incursion; One year after the Khashoggi murder; and just a bit more...
North Korea test-fires sea-based missile ahead of talks. The high-arcing missile reached an altitude of some 570 miles as it traveled some 280 miles from its sea-based launch platform in the sea northeast of the city of Wonsan, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. If fired for effect, the missile could have flown up to 1,200 miles, making it a medium-range ballistic missile, according to calculations by the Union of Concerned Scientists’ David Wright.
The test came one day after North Korea arranged talks on Friday and Saturday with U.S. arms-control negotiators. Washington Post has more, here.
Mapped: Pyongyang’s 2019 missile tests, by CNN, here.
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New Drones, Weapons Get Spotlight in China’s Military Parade // Patrick Tucker: The massive event celebrated 70 years of Communist rule — and an arsenal for its next decade.
‘We Shouldn’t Be Buying the Taliban’s Excuse’ // Kathy Gilsinan, The Atlantic: The Afghan national security adviser wants his government to take over after a failed year of U.S. negotiations. But now the country has an uncertain election to contend with.
Welcome to this Wednesday edition of The D Brief from Bradley Peniston with Ben Watson. If you’re not already subscribed, you can do that here. OTD 1955: ENIAC, the first general-purpose computer, is shut down after a decade of service.
China showed off new drones and other weapons in its Monday military parade, part of a massive set of events to mark 70 years of rule by the Chinese Communist Party. Among the weapons put on public view for the first time:
- DR-8 drone, a Mach 3.3 scout whose main role is expected to be scouting for U.S. aircraft carriers that might then be targeted by ship-killing missiles
- GJ-11 “Sharp Sword” drone, which closely resembles the U.S. Navy’s experimental stealthy carrier-based X-47.
- An unnamed submarine drone
- A new ICBM, the Dongfeng-41
Defense One’s Patrick Tucker has a bit more, and links to expert commentary, here.
Turkey is about to “go it alone” with a crossborder offensive into Syria as part of Ankara’s plan to resettle two million Syrian refugees in their home country’s northeastern border regions. Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan called the resettlement region a “safe zone” in remarks to parliament on Tuesday. But the U.S. hasn’t been so keen on using that “safe zone” language since, as Reuters reports, the two “NATO allies disagree over the depth of the zone and who should control it.”
By Erdogan’s calculations, it should extend 19 miles into Syria (from the southeastern Turkish border) and run for 300 miles from the city of Manbij to the Iraqi border. One big, ongoing problem with that is the U.S. military’s local partner force in the region, the Kurd-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, will have to pull up the stakes on their numerous outposts throughout the Erdogan-desired zone. The SDF have not done that yet. And their U.S. partners do not appear to be forcing them to do that in any short time period just yet.
“We may suddenly arrive one night,” Erdogan said. “We have no other choice left but to tread our own path. Turkey is not going to leave its security to powers with their own agenda in the region.”
Turkey’s foreign minister added that it will take different “stages” to achieve Erdogan’s goal in northeastern Syria. And those, Reuters writes, involve joint patrols, then “going inside and clearing out the terrorists,” before establishing facilities for Turkish troops inside Syria; then at last “the humanitarian aspect and return of refugees” will begin. “If we cannot find a way with the United States, we will clear out the terrorist organization (ourselves),” Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
Why this is a story today: Erdogan previously warned America’s deadline to agree to this safe zone was the end of September, which came and went with no public word from the U.S. So far the two countries have patrolled the border region twice on foot, and six times in the air.
Said America’s Syrian envoy Jim Jeffrey last week: “Any unilateral operation is not going to lead to an improvement in anyone’s security.”
And the Assad regime? It wants the U.S. and Turkey out of the country. Here’s Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem speaking to reporters at the UN on Saturday, via Reuters: “Any foreign forces operating in our territories without our authorization are occupying forces and must withdraw immediately. If they refuse, we have the right to take any and all countermeasures authorized under international law." For what it’s worth, Syrian officials have been rejecting these “safe zone” ideas for several months now, including this public warning, via Kurdistan24, in August.
“We’re ready for an operation,” said Defense Minister Hulusi Akar on Tuesday. “This is not a joke but we want this to be resolved in line with the spirit of the alliance” with the U.S.
For Syrian Kurds in the northeast, The Guardian reports today on location that they feel strongly that “western indifference is part of the problem” in trying to determine the future of the region. “There is no serious fight and there is no serious dialogue,” said Gen Mazlum Kobane, the commander of the SDF. Instead, the Guardian writes, "the focus is on placating Turkey." More here.
It’s been one year since U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered in a Saudi consulate in Turkey. “U.S. intelligence officials believe Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had direct knowledge of the mission targeting Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributor. The Saudi royal denies the allegation and, with the support of President Trump and his allies, has been mostly rehabilitated on the world stage,” the Post wrote.
What we still don’t know about the killing, here.
Pompeo confirms being on the Ukraine call. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he was listening in when President Trump talked to Ukraine’s president about investigating a political rival.
The secretary of state is also obstructing efforts by three congressional committees to depose diplomats involved in American policy toward Ukraine. The New York Times has more, here.