World News Brief, Tuesday December 9

At least 13 killed in failed hostage rescue in Yemen; China sentences eight people to death; Japanese economy slows even more than anticipated; US and NATO end combat mission in Afghanistan; six Guantanamo detainees released to Uruguay; and more 

Top of the Agenda

Thirteen Killed in Failed Hostage Rescue

At least thirteen people, including U.S. and South African hostages Luke Somers and Pierre Korkie, were killed (Reuters) in a failed U.S.-led rescue attempt in Yemen on Saturday, news reports said. Somers and Korkie were shot by their captors, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula militants, during the raid. South African civilian negotiators say they had secured Korkie's imminent release (NYT); U.S. officials said they had no indication of Korkie's release when Special Forces launched the rescue mission. This was the second attempted rescue mission; a raid last month freed (BBC) eight hostages. 


"In rescue operations, hope is not figured into the equation, where planners and decision makers have to weigh the risks of action against the consequences of inaction. By their very nature, hostage rescue operations are among the most difficult and risky military missions to carry out," writes Martin Reardon in Al Jazeera.

"The [Houthi rebel] group is implacably opposed to AQAP, America's main strategic target in Yemen, but it is also openly hostile to American intervention in the country. Houthis are deeply critical, like most Yemenis, of the American drone campaign while leaders of the movement, whose well-known and ubiquitous slogan is 'Death to America'," writes Peter Salisbury in Vice.

"The Yemen model is currently a model for failure. It’s time to re-think America’s counterterrorism strategy and determine what must be done to end AQAP’s threat to Americans," writes Katherine Zimmerman of the American Enterprise Institute. 



China Sentences Eight to Death for Violence in Xinjiang

State media reported on Monday that China sentenced (Reuters) eight people to death for their roles in two attacks in Urumqi, the capital of the western Xinjiang province, earlier this year. China blames a Muslim-separatist group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, for much of the violence in the western region.

This CFR Backgrounder looks at the origins of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement.

JAPAN: The government reported on Monday that the economy slowed (WSJ) more than originally anticipated in the third quarter, contracting 1.9 percent compared to earlier findings of 1.6 percent, as business spending dropped. Last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for snap elections to boost his mandate on economic policies; the elections are slated for December 14.

Mr. Abe is asking the Japanese voter to approve of his decision to postpone the consumption tax, writes CFR's Sheila A. Smith. 


US and NATO end combat mission in Afghanistan

 Six Guantanamo detainees released to Uruguay

This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on