National security wrap

The beat

Afghan police under attack

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for an attack on the police headquarters and training college in Gardez, the capital of Afghanistan’s eastern province Paktia. A suicide bomber detonated a car containing explosives, before gunmen continued the attack. At least 15 people died, including the Paktia province police chief, and more than 100 were wounded according to the city hospital. The majority are civilians who were at the building, ‘which also serves as a government passport department’.

Drug czar no more

President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that Tom Marino, congressman for Pennsylvania, has withdrawn from consideration to become the nation’s ‘drug czar’ running the Office of National Drug Control Policy. It’s reported to be a direct consequence of an investigative report by the Washington Post and 60 Minutes that revealed that Marino heavily lobbied for a bill that ‘undermined federal enforcement efforts against the opioid epidemic’. Marino allegedly received US$100,000 in political donations from the drug industry. Vox provides a lengthy analysis of the case.

Maltese journalist murdered

Investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed by a car bomb on Monday. The Maltese bloggerexposed her country’s link to the Panama Papers’ and was a constant critic of alleged corruption in the small island state.

CT scan

US strikes IS in Yemen

The fall of Raqqa isn’t the end of the fight against IS. On Monday a US drone strike on IS training camps in Yemen killed dozens of militants. That was the first publicised US strike against IS forces in Yemen. IS injected itself into Yemen’s civil war in 2015, ‘targeting both army recruits of the government and Shiites’. US officials claim that lawless areas of Yemen have been used by various terrorist groups for the transit and training of militants.

Somalia attack

Somalia has suffered the deadliest single attack in its history. At least 276 people were killed and around 300 injured when a truck exploded in traffic at one of Mogadishu’s busiest intersections, destroying surrounding buildings. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but Somali authorities have blamed extremist group al-Shabab. Condolences and condemnations have poured in from world leaders at the shocking events, and Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmaajo has declared three days of national mourning.

Marawi liberated from IS, says Duterte

Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has declared that the southern city of Marawi has been ‘liberated’ from IS-backed militants. Although some ‘skirmishes’ continue, a Philippines Armed Forces spokesman claimed, ‘They’re leaderless and they have no more organization.’ The conflict cost the lives of 163 government forces and 847 militants.


Iraq takes control of Kurdish oil

Three weeks after the failed bid for Kurdish independence, Iraqi forces have taken over several oilfields near the city of Kirkuk, which is just outside the Kurdish autonomous region. The US has advised against any escalation, afraid that it could jeopardise the collaborative effort to defeat ISIS. The area around Kirkuk is important because it produces half a million barrels of oil per day.

Pakistan and Iran sign border deal

deal has been inked between neighbours Pakistan and Iran, as both countries seek to increase security along their 900-kilometre shared border. The memorandum of understanding addresses drug smuggling, terrorism and illegal immigration. Last week Iran sent 73 Pakistanis back across the border because they didn’t have the required documentation.

Court rules against Catalonian independence

The Catalonians have hit a road block in their bid for independence, after Spain’s Constitutional Court declared the action illegal. Catalonian leader Carles Puigdemont sent a message to Catalonians living in Australia, encouraging them to ‘come and support us here’, increasing concerns about impending violence. Puigdemont was supposed to confirm by last Monday whether or not he was going to continue the quest for independence, but the deadline has been extended until today.

First responder

Construction collapse

Since 2012, nearly 6,000 complaints have been lodged in Mexico City regarding construction project building code violations. The number of complaints has been increasing steadily, with no records to show if they have been followed up. Forty-four buildings collapsed during the Mexico City earthquake earlier this year, causing many of the 225 deaths from the event. New buildings are no guarantee of safety. Josefina MacGregor, a representative from a neighbourhood association in Mexico City, believes corrupt relationships between politicians and developers are to blame for the building quality problem. Citizens fear the consequences of stronger earthquakes in the future, like one that hit Mexico City in 1985, killing 30,000.

Barbuda for sale

Due to a $200 million hurricane repair bill, Barbuda’s prime minister Gaston Browne is looking to land privatisation as a method of driving economic recovery on the island. Land on Barbuda is held in common, and no land has been bought or sold there since the abolition of slavery more than 180 years ago. There’s debate on whether pro-business policies are ultimately good for economic recovery. American actor Robert De Niro and Australian businessman James Packer stand to benefit from the legal change, as their joint-venture Paradise Found hotel project would be able to transfer from a 99-year lease into permanent land ownership.