Tag Archive | "ISIS"

The FBI and Apple, Inc.: National Security v. Privacy

Photo Cred: WCCF Tech

Photo Cred: WCCF Tech

In January of this year, President Obama’s top intelligence advisers met with Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook and other technology leaders to discuss their long-standing disagreement over the encryption safeguards built into their devices. The Federal Bureau of Investigation requested Apple help unlock an iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the San Bernardino murderers who killed 14 people on December 2, 2015. Apple refused. On February 16, 2016, the United States District Court for the District of California issued an order compelling Apple to assist the FBI by enabling the search of the Farook’s iPhone. Tim Cook called the FBI’s request “chilling” and a “dangerous precedent” to set. The FBI requested that Apple create and digitally sign a special version of iOS, which would be modified in three ways, as specified on page 8 of the court order:

  1. iOS can be set to erase its keys after 10 incorrect passcode guesses. The FBI wants software with this feature disabled.
  2. iOS imposes increasingly long delays after consecutive incorrect passcode guesses to slow down guessing (this is commonly called rate limiting). The FBI wants software that accepts an arbitrary number of guesses with no delays.
  3. iOS requires individual passcodes be typed in by hand. The FBI wants a means to electronically enter passcodes, allowing it to automatically try every possible code quickly.

At the time, Apple worried the FBI’s application of the All Writs Act of 1798 would allow the government to force Apple into taking further steps, and used the example of surveillance software that could intercept and capture all data on an iPhone.

The All Writs Act is a 227 year old, general-purpose law allowing a court to require third parties’ assistance to execute a prior order of the court when “necessary or appropriate.” Many feared that should the U.S. government prevail in this case, it could be used to justify law enforcement efforts to get around encryption technologies in other investigations far removed from national security threats. Additionally, some feared the government could ask to use this power proactively, before a suspected terrorist attack. Is this really a possibility? Perhaps, but not certainly.

Ultimately, this case pitted a strong, governmental interest in ensuring its national security against an individual’s fundamental right to privacy. Many continue to wonder whether the U.S. can claim national security concerns justify the hacking into all iPhones. However, two legal roadblocks prevent such an occurrence.

First, in the U.S., the Fourth Amendment grants a measure of privacy for “persons, houses, papers, and effects” from “unreasonable searches and seizures” while requiring that warrants be issued based only on probable cause. Second, the international human right to privacy, arguably a customary norm of international law, as codified in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), place limits on a State’s ability to interfere with the right to privacy.

But the courts weren’t faced with making this determination. On March 28, 2016, the Justice Department withdrew its legal effort to compel Apple to assist the U.S. government claiming it had unlocked the iphone without assistance from the tech company. Despite the U.S. government’s successful iphone hack, on April 8, 2016, the Justice Department said it would continue to try to force the tech company to help in criminal probes based on the All Writs Act justification.

Interference into an individuals’ right to privacy is illegal where it is arbitrary and not prescribed by law. As a threshold matter, the invasion must be prescribed by domestic law and have certain clear and precise safeguards. Second, and probably the limiting factor, is that the interference must not be arbitrary. The European Court of Human Rights’ jurisprudence on the subject has allowed a claim of national security threats to supersede an individuals right to privacy. However, these national security threats must be concrete, and the interference may not be “blanket and indiscriminate.” Thus, a State would not be justified in the surveillance of any and all phones absent a clearly defined threat to such State.

In sum, international law already accounts for the fear’s individuals express over a ruling in favor of the government. Should Apple fail in its “fight the good fight” attempt, individuals need not worry about the government being enabled.

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Responsibility to Protect in the Wake of the Paris Attacks

On Friday November 13, 2015, France experienced a sequence of horrific terrorist attacks, for dddwhich the Islamic State claimed responsibility; nonetheless, the attacks have also been linked to Syria. In our reaction to the events on Friday, it is important to remember all of the positive efforts that France has engaged in to aid the persecuted peoples of Syria. In reflecting on the grim events there are two important things to remember: the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) and “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.” The first, is the UN doctrine of humanitarian intervention to protect the welfare of individuals, which France has heavily advocated for throughout the Syrian conflict. The second, is the French national motto, “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” which embodies the French spirit and is reflected in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” It is critical in this time of crisis for France to base its reaction on the foundation these two principles.

Over the last four years, France has advocated for the use of the R2P doctrine, led the investigation into the humanitarian violations of President Bashar al-Assad, and offered protection to about 5,000 Syrian refugees (more than double the number the U.S. has admitted). However, in reaction to Friday’s attacks, President Hollande stated that France will “lead the fight and we will be ruthless.” In this moment of crisis, President Hollande should rather stand steady in France’s position based on humanitarian intervention.

To honor the 129 (and counting) lives lost in the terrorist attacks, France, and the world, should stand by those still suffering from the extreme persecution that is occurring in the Syrian state. Less than a month ago, Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, met with other leading nations to discuss a transition in Syria to protect the civilians and “confirm[ed] the commitment of France to go forward with its initiative on a collective code of conduct.” The “code of conduct” to which Minister Fabius referred was R2P. In 2005, the United Nations Member States agreed to the R2P doctrine and it should be with this doctrine that we continue to intervene in Syria. R2P is comprised of three pillars:

  1. The State carries the primary responsibility for protecting populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing, and their incitement;
  2. The international community has a responsibility to encourage and assist States in fulfilling this responsibility;
  3. The international community has a responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other means to protect populations from these crimes. If a State is manifestly failing to protect its populations, the international community must be prepared to take collective action to protect populations, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

The implementation of R2P requires that action be ordained under the provisions of the United Nations Charter, which essentially gives decision-making authority to the Security Council. The implementation of R2P begins when states have failed to meet the needs of their people; then international obligation requires states to prevent and punish genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Conventional and customary international law understands this obligation. However, the R2P is not meant to be a military intervention that threatens sovereignty, rather, it is designed to prevent atrocities, react to the active occurrences of violations, and help rebuild after a crisis has passed. In essence, as Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon put it, the R2P is satisfy “the aspirations of people everywhere for a safer, more secure world for ‘We the peoples.’”

The R2P is, admittedly, only an international norm, carrying with it no obligation under international law. Thus far, implementation of the R2P has been prevented by Security Council vetoes from China and Russia. Dr. Simmon Adams argued in a Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect Occasional Paper Series that each failure of the Security Council to act has increased the level of violence used by President Bashar al-Assad.

The violence used by President Bashar al-Assad has indeed been horrific. In April 2014, the Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations addressed a letter to the Security Council, S/2014/244, which provided testimonial, photographic, and medical evidence of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Included in the letter were graphic images of Syrians who had been detained by the agents of the Syrian government; in viewing the photos, the images are reminiscent of images from the Holocaust. Following this report, France proposed a resolution, backed by 58 countries, to have the Security Council refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Unfortunately, this resolution was vetoed by Russia and China. This veto occurred in spite of France’s previous advocacy that the Security Council members refrain from using their veto power when mass atrocity crimes are at stake.

Nonetheless, in a bold move France began its own investigation of President Bashar al-Assad in September, to hold him accountable for his administration’s human rights violations. This investigation will require that France identifies French nationals among the victims, but France’s continued attempts to hold President Bashar al-Assad accountable are commendable. While this effort may ultimately be unsuccessful, the investigation is giving attention to the 8,871 Syrians being kidnapped, detained, and/or tortured; not to mention the larger number of 200,000, which is how many Syrians have died since the beginning of the conflict. These lives certainly do not diminish the value of the lives lost in France on Friday, but France should be proud of its efforts to help end the Syrian crisis; and should not abandon these efforts.

Currently, there are 4,287,293 registered Syrian refugees. What is important now for France, and the world, is to remember that there are people in Syria who need international humanitarian protection. In light of the inhumanity that we, as a world, have witnessed, we must not be so feeble-hearted as to close our borders to those seeking refuge. France, and all of us, need to take to heart the words of Remi Piet, an assistant professor of international affairs at Qatar University, “any link to the refugees coming from Syria is an error because refugees are the first victims of Daesh [ISIL].” Providing shelter to refugees and acting with integrity, a spirit of protecting our innate humanity, are embodied in the guiding principles of the Responsibility to Protect and “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité.”

Alison Haugen is a 3L Sturm College of Law and Graduate School of Social Work dual degree student and a Staff Editor on the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

 

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Critical Analysis: Protecting refugees in the midst of war

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Destruction in Yarmouk. Credit: HaAretz. http://www.haaretz.co.il/st/inter/Heng/news/images/yar2.jpg

In the early days of April, the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) pushed closer to the center of Damascus, the Syrian capital, than they had been able to before.  They did this by seizing the majority of the Al-Yarmouk camp, a large refugee district in the southern part of the city.  The camp had once held 160,000 refugees from Palestine, but since the beginning of the Syrian Civil War, the refugees have dispersed, leaving 18,000 within the camp.

Even before this ISIS invasion, al-Yarmouk was “a humanitarian nightmare.”  The camp was “ruled” by various factions and armed groups, siphoning scarce food away from the refugees and towards the fighters and their families.  For the last two years, the camp has been subject to a siege that has made the food situation even more grave.  Recently, al-Yarmouk had falled under the control of the Syrian rebel group Nusra Front, whom some eyewitnesses say were fighting alongside ISIS, but who has claimed neutrality in the struggle since. Now, the festering humanitarian crisis in al-Yarmouk has somehow gotten worse.  Mere days after this incursion began, reports of killings and beheadings had already circulated.  The Syrian government has dropped several barrel bombs on the camp. Just as deadly, United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has been unable to send its usual food or convoys into the camp since the fighting started.  This means that the 18,000 residents of the camp have no food, no water, and very little medicine.  Moreover, only 93 people have been evacuated, leaving the rest stuck in this deadly zone. If nothing is done, “Yarmouk shall remain a testament to the collective human failure of protecting civilians in times of war.” (Saeb Erekat, as quoted in the New York Times.)

The al-Yarmouk situation sheds light not only on the dangers of ISIS and the plight of Palestinian refugees, but also the inadequacy of international humanitarian law in dealing with such situations.  There is an international obligation to protect refugees (1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees; 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees) as well as an obligation to protect civilians in times of war (The Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949); Additional Protocol I (1977)).  And yet, no one is protecting the 18,000 people trapped in al-Yarmouk.  No one, it seems, is even considered responsible for the 18,000 refugees there.

Perhaps the problem is ISIS itself.  The Geneva Convention is designed to deal with states.  Neither ISIS nor Nusra Front is a state.  Therefore, neither feels bound to protect the civilians in al-Yarmouk.  It is doubtful whether either would even be held responsible for the harm done to civilians in the course of their battle.  While the Syrian government may be held responsible, their attitude (particularly in dropping barrel bombs on the camp) indicates that they feel the refugees are a secondary concern.  So when the state who should be responsible refuses to act to protect the civilians and the non-state actors concerned refuse to “stop the fighting” or let others in to evacuate citizens, who under international law is responsible?

This situation highlights perfectly the need to officially implement a Responsibility to Protect.  Ideally, the United Nations should be able to send in a force to evacuate the refugees, by force if necessary.  If the United Nations cannot or will not act quickly enough, anyone else should have not only the right, but the obligation to do so to protect those 18,000 lives.  But while that reformulation of the law is easy—and indeed, already in progress—the next question is both unsettled in law and difficult practically: where would that nation evacuate those refugees to?  If al-Yarmouk was already a humanitarian mess before the ISIS invasion, what good would relocating those people to another shabby, hastily constructed camp, with minimal food convoyed to them on a daily basis?  Is it as easy to obligate a state to take in 18,000—or 160,000—refugees as to march in and save them from certain death?  Is this not a grave oversight in our conception of both a Responsibility to Protect and our refugee law?

I have no good answers to this, but unfortunately, the refugees of al-Yarmouk do not have the luxury to wait for good answers.  Our international humanitarian law is not equipped to handle this—so we must use the law that we have and create the rest after, based on our victories or mistakes from this situation.  If we do not, al-Yarmouk, as Mr. Erekat has said, “shall remain a testament to the collective human failure of protecting civilians in times of war.”

Samantha Peaslee is a 3L at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.  She is the Senior Managing Editor for the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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Loss of Culture: Can laws prevent the destruction of antiquities?  

“Without memory, there is no culture. Without memory, there would be no civilization, no society, no future.” – Elie Wiesel

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ISIS fighters destroy antiquities in Iraq. Courtesy of Chicago Tonight. hicagotonight.wttw.com/2015/03/10/destruction-antiquities-iraq

Over the course of human history, great and mighty civilizations have emerged, such as the Romans and Aztecs,
only to fall to plague, pestilence or conquest. However, the lasting effects of these civilizations are the archaeological sites and artifacts left behind. Artifacts, like the Rosetta Stone, the Terra Cotta Army, and the David, and ancient ruins, like Machu Picchu, the Coliseum, and the Great Wall of China, give the world insight into how ancient civilizations lived, and contribute to the future development of the human race. Through the discovery and preservation of artifacts such as these, the human race can continue to preserve ancient cultures and ensure that they may help shape the future of humanity.

Recent world events show a lack of regard for preserving these jewels of the past in the 21st century.  For example, the world was recently shocked by Islamic State’s destruction of ancient artifacts and archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq. This is not unprecedented, however, as this type of destruction happens all over the world; not just in the Middle East, but in South America, and China, and is attributable to numerous causes, including urban development and war.

The international community has attempted to ensure the integrity of the world’s cultural sites through the creation of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization and two international treaties: the Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. The Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Culture and Natural Heritage, also knows the 1972 World Heritage Convention, created the World Heritage List allowing for archeological sites of “outstanding universal value” to be placed on a list that tries to keep the sites protected. For example, the Statute of Liberty, the Tower of London, and the city of Venice are just some of the sites on the World Heritage List. The World Heritage List also includes cites that are in danger, such as the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls.

Although these safe guards ensure archaeological sites and artifacts are recognized, and the conventions include sanctions which deter member States from breaching the conventions, it is the sovereign duty of each State to ensure that its archeological sites are protected. It is also the duty of each State to bring charges against parties that destroy or harm archaeological sites. In some cases, when a State does nothing to protect a site, or does not punish parties who destroy artifacts, the archeological artifact can be lost forever. Even though state parties to the above-mentioned treaties agree to protect their antiquities, the international community does not enforce its sanctions provisions against states who fail to protect. As of yet, no State has been brought before the International Court of Justice for a lack of protection. For example, China did little to protect artifacts when construction for an IKEA store unearthed an ancient tomb. Although China imposes a fine on companies who destroying ancient tombs, it does not enforce these law strongly, and as a result, an irreplaceable piece of history has been lost. The larger issue is that China was not brought before the ICJ for failure to protect in this case.

The larger issue is that state sovereignty protects most state decisions regarding antiquities. Also, under the treaty, only a State Party may bring a suit against another State Party for violation of a treaty or convention provision. Thus, the principally affected shareholders, like the existing Mayan populations in Belize whose ancestor’s pyramids were destroyed, have no avenue by which to make the State answer for its lack of protection. In most cases, States are able to pressure principally affected stakeholders into forgoing a public fight, likely due to lack of enforcement by the international community. For example, the 1972 World Heritage Convention only asks Party States to “endeavor, in so far as possible” to protect the culture of the State. These archeological sites and artifacts are the backbone of ancient civilizations, and in essence are owned by the people of the State and the existing decedents of those civilizations. Yet, principally affected stakeholder have no recourse to stop the destruction.

So what can be done?

A model that States can follow to ensure preservation of archeological sites and artifacts is that of the United States. The United States strives to ensure the rights to cultural sites and artifacts are given to decedents of the creating civilization. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of November 16, 1990 gives the right of ownership over human remains and sacred objects to Native American tribes, after certain requirements are met, such as showing a relationship of lineal descent. Likewise, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 protects the archaeological sites and resources of Native American lands. If other States follow a similar model as that of the United States, then the archeological sites and artifacts have a better chance of survival. Even if a State does everything to try and curb the destruction of archeological sites and artifacts, once destruction has occurred, the history, the memory, the civilizations are lost forever.

Teresa Milligan is a 2L law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and is Editor in Chief for the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri

Critical Analysis: Will al-Qaeda Rejoin Forces with ISIS?

by Casey Smartt, Denver Journal of International Law and Policy

October 14, 2014

 

By now, most, if not all, world leaders have taken notice of the threat posed by Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (“ISIS”). Currently, 14 nations have joined the United States’ fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. However, al-Qaeda still maintains a strong presence in the Middle East. As such, how plausible is a nightmare scenario where the two previously affiliated groups join forces?

To answer this question, one must understand the origins of ISIS. In October 2004, Abu Masab al-Zarqawi and his militant group Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, pledged allegiance to Osama Bin Laden’s terrorist group, al-Qaeda. In doing so, they became known as al-Qaeda in Iraq (“AQI”). In the 2006 surge, US troops claimed defeat over AQI because they killed al-Zarqawi. However, in 2011, AQI rebooted as ISIS and slowly but surely, began rebuilding its ranks. But, ISIS’ relationship with al-Qaeda began to deteriorate because of ISIS’ brutality against civilians. Further, ISIS, now ruled by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, ignored al-Qaeda’s leader’s, Ayman al-Zawahiri, commands to stop expanding into the Syrian civil war during the Spring of 2013. Not only did ISIS defy orders, they also began attacking al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Jabhat al-Nusra. This aggressive act of defiance led al-Zawahiri to officially sever ties with ISIS in February 2014.

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi contested Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri’s ruling and the group continued to operate in Syria. Photo credit: AFP through Al Arabiya News.

 

Nevertheless, the international response to ISIS’ merciless rampage through Iraq and Syria has given the former allies a reason to once again join forces. This is because the U.S. airstrikes have supposedly targeted al-Nusra forces. This has given al-Qaeda a strong incentive to team with ISIS. Moreover, a number of fighters from other Islamist groups are defecting to ISIS because it is now seen as more capable of creating an Islamic State. Thus, al-Qaeda could be forced to adopt the “if you can’t beat them, join them” philosophy. An al-Nusra spokesperson, Abu Firas al-Suri has already spoken out against the airstrikes, stating “This is not a war against al-Nusra, but a war against Islam.” ISIS also has a strong incentive to make a deal with al-Qaeda because air strikes are slowly crippling their resources. ISIS and al-Nusra have already formed a brief alliance in the takeover of Arsal, a small town that sits alongside the Lebanese-Syrian border. ISIS and al-Nusra fighters captured a number of Lebanese policemen and soldiers. A video released by the Nusra Front shows an al-Nusra fighter shooting a Lebanese soldier in the head, while another begs Hezbollah to leave Syria. Other images purportedly showed the beheading of another Lebanese soldier. This is a preview of what would happen if al-Qaeda with its funding resources teamed up with the super-organized ISIS fighters.

 

However, an actual alliance between al-Qaeda and ISIS is unlikely to happen. This is because any formal agreement made by al-Qaeda would require the approval of its leader, al-Zawahiri. He is a staunch critic of ISIS. In 2005, al-Zawahiri wrote a letter that accused ISIS’ brutal tactics, then AQI, of damaging al-Qaeda’s image among potential Muslim recruits. Further, Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, a researcher at the Interdisciplinary Center in Israel, told The World Post “Baghdadi’s demand to be recognized as Caliph is simply too much for al-Qaeda.” It appears that any “team effort” by al-Qaeda and ISIS will be done in a smaller capacity, such as an al-Qaeda affiliate coordinating with ISIS.  Thus, the nightmare scenario, while possible, has too many political hurdles to pose a significant threat.

Casey Smartt is a 3L law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and Cite & Source Editor for the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

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ISIL fighters marching in Raqqa, Syria.

Uncertainty of U.S. Government Intervention over ISIS

One of the predominant issues in recent world news has been the current actions of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and the tensions that the U.S. and Syria now face in response to those actions.  The issue is not new, especially since the ISIS group has prospered since U.S. troops left the Syria and Iraq region in 2011, but the conflict has been escalating this year to a breaking point.  This article will explain the origins of ISIS, detail the current state of affairs in Syria and Iraq, and explain the current political struggle the U.S. has in addressing this threat, including the legal implications of taking action against the group in Syria.

As background, the Islamic State in Iraq was created by Abu Ayybu al-Masri in 2006, and was originally a part of al-Queda.  The current leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, took over control after Abu Ayyub al-Masri was killed in 2010.  The group then absorbed another militant group in Syria in 2014 and changed their name to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) in April 2013.  In February 2014, al-Queda renounced all association with ISIS in due to months of infighting, and because ISIS was considered too violent. In March, ISIS started its military campaign by first taking over the Syrian city of Raqqa, and now currently controls territory in both Iraq and Syria.  ISIS continues to terrorize parts of northern and western Iraq as well as parts of Syria.

ISIL fighters marching in Raqqa, Syria.

This undated file image posted on a militant website on Jan. 14, 2014, shows fighters from the al Qaida-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) marching in Raqqa, Syria. Image Source: ABC News, AP.

One of the unique tensions with ISIS is that many of their fundamental principles go beyond those held by other Muslims.  ISIS believes that all of the Muslims in the world should live under one Islamic state which shall ruled by sharia rule.  The goal for ISIS is to create its own Islamic State in the region between west and northern Iraq and eastern Syria. Their ruthless tactics have not only created tensions with Western States and Syria’s President Assad, but have also created tensions with other al-Queda jihadists groups like the Jabhat al-Nusra group who is now clashing with ISIS, and starting to fight against ISIS to slow down their progress.

Despite efforts by Jabhat al-Nursa to slow progress, ISIS has continued to expand into Iraq and Syria.  They have recently taken Mosul, Iraq’s second most populated city, as well as an oil field in Syria.  Although the ISIS’ movement across the land is of significant concern to President al-Assad, the concern that impacts the U.S. is the mass casualties and humanitarian violations that ISIS commits every time it conquers another region.  Some of the crimes included killing captured Syrian soldiers, killing Kurds in Iraq, and recently the beheading of American journalist, James Foley, which occurred in Syria.  UNICEF estimated that the ISIS in now responsible for the displacement of up to 25,000 Yazidis and the death of 40 children.  As a result of the tensions in Iraq, the U.S. has lunched airstrikes into Iraq to slow ISIS’s progress, but have yet to launch airstrikes into Syria because of the potential political and legal repercussions.

One of issues with the U.S. potentially deciding to launch airstrikes in Syria is the potential legal ramifications.  One of the issues is that Syria may not be able to fight the ISIS on their own, because their counter-attack is based only a mutual dislike of the ISIS by certain groups, like Jabhat al-Nursa.   At this point, the U.S. does not have a stated policy on how they will proceed, but some now believe that the U.S. may choose to use force for Syria.  One of the questions for an U.S. action may be whether there is a justification for use of force under international law.   Part of the justification may be that the U.S. is using the threat to come to the aid of Iraq.  Another justification would be to either use a Security Council Resolution or receive consent from Assad to use force.              Depending on the political ramifications, the U.S. may decide to use either justification.

At this point there situation appears to be at a standstill.  President Obama appears to be weighing the potential of expanding the airstrikes into Syria.  Part of the issue would be if the U.S. decides to strike that action could be considered an act of aggression against Syria.  On the other hand, if Obama decides to work with President Assad it may be considered an act of support of Assad, something which could be difficult considering the allegations the Assad has been turning a blind eye to al-Queda fighters using Syria as a base camp for training.  Regardless of what President Obama decides, this is an issue that will continue to be prevalent in world news until resolved.  The key will be resolving the issue in manner that both protects the citizens at risk and ensures that tensions between the U.S. between Syria do not rise more than that in a manner that is legally justifiable.

Katelin Wheeler is a 4L at the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law, and Business Editor for the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.

 

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