News Roundup and Notes: November 21, 2014

Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.

IRAQ and SYRIA 

The Pentagon said that it would begin the deployment of 1,500 new troops to Iraq in the coming weeks, without waiting for Congress to approve funding, in a shift away from previous comments. [The Hill’s Kristina Wong]

The U.S. is yet to act on the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government’s appeal for heavy weaponry, made in September, according to a Kurdish official providing further details of the request. [Wall Street Journal’s Adam Entous]

“Amid mutual suspicion,” the Turkish prime minister has paid a visit to Iraq, the first such visit in close to four years, highlighting the “scramble taking place all across the Middle East, as former adversaries are seeking to mend relationships … at a time of unprecedented crisis.” [New York Times’ Tim Arango] 

Tunisia is “shaken” as reports emerge of young women turning to extremism and travelling to Syria to join Islamist fighters, writes Carlotta Gall. [New York Times] 

A Dutch teenage girl who returned home from Syria will appear in court today on suspicion of threatening national security. [BBC] 

The U.K. is becoming more sophisticated in its approach to returned jihadist fighters from Syria and Iraq, the government warming to the idea of rehabilitation as many of the returnees are “disillusioned or disturbed” rather than dangerous. [The Economist]

IRAN

Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Vienna yesterday to join the talks on Iran’s nuclear program; Jay Solmon and Laurence Norman explore the background and challenges going into the negotiations ahead of the deadline on Monday. [Wall Street Journal]  Speaking in Paris earlier in the day, Kerry said he was “quite confident” about the groundwork that had been laid for a deal, adding that “[w]e are not talking about an extension, not among ourselves.” [BBC]

Michael R. Gordon sets out the U.S. expectations of a nuclear deal, including the “ambitious goal” of slowing Iran’s program so that it would take “at least a year to make enough material for a nuclear bomb if [Iran] decided to ignore the accord.” [New York Times]

In Iran, the final decision on an accord lies with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the real debate among Iranian hard-liners will likely only unfold after an agreement, if reached, is announced. [New York Times’ Thomas Erdbrink]

The “subtle start of a blame game between the U.S. and Iran” has begun below the surface as the Nov. 24 deadline approaches, namely, the “finger-pointing” aimed at defining “who would be responsible should the diplomatic enterprise fail.” [Financial Times’ Geoff Dyer] 

SURVEILLANCE, PRIVACY, and TECHNOLOGY

NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers warned of a “dramatic” cyberattack in the next decade. Testifying at a House Intelligence Committee hearing, Rogers said that several countries, including China, have infiltrated the networks of important U.S. industries to steal data that could be used to plan future attacks. [Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima; Wall Street Journal’s Siobhan Gorman]

The FBI’s interception of a Pakistani official’s conversation earlier this year led to the ongoing inquiry of a former State Department diplomat over concerns that she was improperly passing on classified information to the Pakistani government. [New York Times’ Matt Apuzzo et al]

The revelations of mass government surveillance have “fizzled politically,” and surveillance reform “isn’t coming any time soon,” argues Michael Hirsh. [Politico Magazine]

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

Israel has arrested four Palestinians on suspicion of plotting the assassination of Foreign Minister Avignor Lieberman; the plot was allegedly made during this summer’s Gaza war. [Reuters]

The employment of a number of Arabs has been suspended by the mayor of the Israeli city of Ashkelon, causing uproar and prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to emphasize that there “can be no discrimination against Israeli Arabs.” [Washington Post’s Ruth Eglash]

Israeli authorities have confiscated a shipment of weapons from China bound for East Jerusalem. Five Arab Israeli citizens have been arrested in connection with the seizure. [New York Times’ Isabel Kershner]

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is being criticized by Israel for his stance on the recent upsurge of violence, and has been accused of incitement and fueling unrest. [Wall Street Journal’s Nicholas Casey]

An EU appeal urging Israel not to raze the homes of Palestinians responsible for deadly attacks has been rejected, with Israel saying the tactic is designed to deter further violent attacks. [Reuters]

“Courage and responsibility” are required of the Israeli and Palestinian leadership in order to reverse the recent “dangerous downward spiral” of violence, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon stated yesterday. [UN News Centre]

The Economist explains why Tuesday’s attack on a Jerusalem synagogue matters, offering the warning to “keep God out of it” as “the more religion infuses the dispute, the more impossible it is to find a deal.”

RUSSIA and UKRAINE

Nearly 1,000 people have been killed in eastern Ukraine since September 5, despite the shaky ceasefire, amid “persist[ing]” violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported yesterday.  [UN News Centre]

The U.S. is “committed” to assisting Ukraine, but will seek more progress on promised reforms from Kiev, a senior U.S. official said yesterday. American lawmakers have increased calls for further aid to Kiev, including the deputy national security adviser, Antony Blinken, who told Congress that “it’s time to provide defensive lethal military assistance to Ukraine and escalate pressure on [Russia].” [Washington Post’s Karen DeYoung]  Meanwhile, the U.S. plans to increase its non-lethal military aid to Ukraine, according to U.S. officials. [Reuters’ Warren Strobel and Patricia Zengerle]

Russia has warned the U.S. against arming Ukrainian forces, ahead of Vice President Joe Biden’s arrival in Kiev last evening. [Reuters]

Ukraine’s economy “needs more Western help” in the face of Russian aggression, argues The Economist.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

Five low-level Guantanamo detainees have been transferred to Slovakia and Georgia in Eastern Europe. The resettlement of the men, four of whom were Yemenis, marks a significant policy shift in the administration’s approach to closing the prison, writes Charlie Savage. [New York Times]

CIA torture report. A number of Senate Democrats have accused the Obama administration of attempting to censor important elements of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA practices post-9/11 during a closed-door meeting yesterday. [New York Times’ Mark Mazzeti and Carl Hulse]

“Drone strikes never kill ‘humans.’” Conor Friedersdorf criticizes news organizations for echoing CIA rhetoric, describing all military-age males killed as “suspected militants” without further proof. [The Atlantic]

Daniel W. Drezner comments on the reported proposed reorganization of the CIA in an op-ed at the Washington Post.

The Libyan militant group involved in the 2012 Benghazi attack on the U.S. diplomatic missions has provided “training and logistical support” to al-Qaeda’s North African affiliate, according to the UN Security Council document outlining sanctions against the Libyan group, Ansar al-Shariah. [New York Times’ David D. Kirkpatrick and Somini Sengupta]

U.K. prosecutors have announced terrorism-related charges against three men yesterday; the men are accused of planning to behead members of the British public. [Wall Street Journal’s Alexis Flynn]  And the U.K.’s new counterterrorism bill, to be published next week, will include a power to force the “internal exile” of suspected terrorists within the U.K. [The Guardian’s Alan Travis]

Secret Service officers arrested a woman after she was discovered walking the perimeter of the White House in possession of a handgun yesterday. [Washington Post’s Carol Leonnig]

A suspected Boko Haram attack in northeast Nigeria killed at least 45 people yesterday, according to officials and witnesses. [Al Jazeera America]  Meanwhile, clashes broke out in Nigeria’s parliament over the vote on renewing the state of emergency in three states partially controlled by Boko Haram. [Wall Street Journal’s Gbenga Akingbule and Drew Hinshaw]

Senior Muslim Brotherhood leader, Mohammed Ali Bishr, has been arrested by Egyptian authorities, as part of a “sweeping crackdown” on the group since the military ouster of their government in July 2013. [AP]

The Wall Street Journal editorial board notes that China and Russia will likely use their Security Council veto to block the referral of North Korea to the International Criminal Court, but suggests that the “exposure of human-rights atrocities at the UN is one way to pressure Beijing to act” if China wants to prevent a nuclear crisis on its doorstep.

A Swedish appeal court has rejected Julian Assange’s appeal challenging his arrest warrant for questioning over sexual assault allegations. [BBC]

If you want to receive your news directly to your inbox, sign up here for the Just Security Early Edition. For the latest information from Just Security, follow us on Twitter (@just_security) and join the conversation on Facebook. To submit news articles and notes for inclusion in our daily post, please email us at news@justsecurity.org. Don’t forget to visit The Pipeline for a preview of upcoming events and blog posts on U.S. national security. 

Filed under:
About the Author(s)

Ruchi Parekh

Former Associate Editor at Just Security Follow her on Twitter (@RParekh88).

Nadia O'Mara

Former Assistant News Editor at Just Security