News Roundup and Notes: April 9, 2015

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

Iraqi armed forces and allied Shi’ite militia fighters carried out an operation against ISIS outside Ramadi, with some local officials viewing the attack as the start of a major offensive into Anbar province, though others contradicted this claim. [New York Times’ Rod Nordland]

More than 200 Yazidi captives have been released by the Islamic State—many of whom are elderly people and children—after being held by the group for eight months in Mosul. [Al Jazeera]

Canada has conducted its first airstrike against the Islamic State in Syria, following the government’s decision last week to expand Canada’s involvement in operations against the Islamic State. [Canadian Press’s Murray Brewster]

U.S.-led airstrikes continue. Coalition military forces carried out two airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria between 8am April 7 and 8am April 8. Separately, coalition forces conducted four strikes in Iraq. [Central Command]

Sweden will send armed forces to Iraq to assist in operations against the Islamic State following a request from the country’s government. The Swedish government said 35 troops would be sent to help train Iraqi forces battling the terrorist group. [Reuters]

The Islamic State falls outside the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, said the court’s chief prosecutor yesterday, adding that a change in jurisdiction would have to come from external decisions such as a recommendation from the Security Council. [ICC; New York Times’ Marlise Simons]

Hackers claiming ISIS allegiance seized control of a French TV network yesterday night, an apparently “unprecedented step” in the extremist group’s information warfare strategy, reports the AP.

YEMEN

Intense fighting has been reported in Aden today, while Saudi-led airstrikes targeted Houthi rebels for the 15th day. The WHO says at least 643 people have now been killed and 2,200 injured since March 19. MSF reports that medical supplies have started arriving into Aden. [Al Jazeera]

Houthi rebels, backed by fighters loyal to former President Saleh, seized the city of Ataq today, gaining control of the provincial capital of Sunni-dominated Shabwa province despite Saudi-led airstrikes. [Reuters’ Mohammed Mukhashaf]

Iran has dispatched a naval flotilla to the Gulf of Aden, a move likely to heighten tensions with the Saudi-led coalition currently engaged in the military offensive against Shi’ite Houthi rebels. [Wall Street Journal’s Asa Fitch]

“Consensus” appears to be building around the use of ground troops by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, with one Egyptian official saying the decision on their use has already been made, report Gregory D. Johnsen and Maged Atef. [Buzzfeed News]

The U.S. has begun daily aerial refueling of Saudi-led coalition warplanes conducting airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Pentagon said yesterday. [Al Arabiya News]

Secretary of State John Kerry has spoken out to warn Iran over its support for Houthi rebels in Yemen. [PBS Newshour]

Russia and Venezuela have objected to a draft UN Security Council resolution that would prohibit arms shipments to leaders of the Houthi movement and the country’s former president; UN diplomats say Moscow wants the resolution to include a universal embargo on all parties in the conflict. [AP]

AQAP has “seized the opportunity of the disorder” in Yemen to regroup and strengthen, said Defense Secretary Ash Carter, noting that U.S. counterterrorism operations in the country had been impeded by its collapse. [New York Times’ Helene Cooper and Eric Schmitt]

Pakistan remains undecided on whether to join the Saudi-led coalition, with several major Pakistani political parties expressing opposition, reflective of the “country’s fatigue” with armed conflict and concern over an escalation in sectarian tensions in the Muslim world, write Tim Craig and Shaiq Hussain. [Washington Post]

AFGHANISTAN

A service member of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan was killed yesterday when an Afghan soldier opened fire on American troops in the city of Jalalabad, prompting a shootout which left two Afghan soldiers dead, including the original shooter. So-called insider attacks have been an issue in the past, peaking in 2012, but this is the first such attack since the U.S.-led force formally ended its combat mission. [Wall Street Journal’s Ehsanullah Amiri and Margherita Stancati]

GUANTANAMO BAY

A Ugandan man who had previously been held at Guantanamo Bay has been arrested by authorities in a Kampala suburb on suspicion of involvement in the assassination of the senior principal state attorney. [AP’s Rodney Muhumuza]

New Uruguayan President Tabare Vazquez has called on the U.S. to provide financial assistance to the six former Guantanamo detainees who were resettled in his country last year. [AP]

IRAN NUCLEAR TALKS

Iran will not sign a final nuclear deal “unless all sanctions are lifted on the same day,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said earlier today. [Reuters’ Parisa Hafezi]

President Obama called Sen. Bob Corker to make a case for nuclear diplomacy yesterday, part of the administration’s bid to work with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair who is leading the efforts on an Iran bill. [The Hill’s Jordan Fabian]  Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Corker’s Iran bill, which would allow for congressional review of any deal, will “undermine” the international talks, in a statement supporting the White House position. [Politico’s Lauren French]  And Senate Democrats are seeking to make alterations to the Iran bill, amid concerns that the legislation could threaten a final nuclear agreement with Iran. [Politico’s Burgess Everett]

The sanctions regime brought Iran to the negotiating table, CIA Director John Brennan said on Tuesday, and dismissed some critics of the framework agreement as “wholly disingenuous.” [New York Times’ David E. Sanger]

The U.S. will need to reassure Sunni Arab states about the emerging Iran deal. Barbara Slavin argues that the administration can offer greater military and intelligence support to the Persian Gulf countries, “but cannot prop them up against internal threats.” [Al-Monitor]

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may need to worry about a nuclear deal, which could lead to a wider understanding between the West and Iran over Tehran’s role in Syria, according to analysts and diplomats. [Wall Street Journal’s Sam Dagher]

Iran’s deputy UN ambassador has called for a timeline for complete nuclear disarmament, accusing the five nuclear powers of taking no action to destroy their stockpiles despite making such assurances. [AP’s Edith M. Lederer]

The “first political ramifications” of an Iran deal are likely to be felt in Israel, with the coalition talks in Jerusalem likely to be immediately impacted by the Lausanne agreement, according to The Economist.

The framework deal “will make war more likely,” argues Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who outlines the “omissions” in the agreement and calls for a better alternative in a Washington Post op-ed.

Daniel Henninger comments on the “Obama doctrine,” writing that it amounts to: “[s]peak softly and claim to carry a big stick, which you have no intention of ever using.” [Wall Street Journal]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The State Department has formally recommended the removal of Cuba from the State Sponsors of Terrorism List, clearing the way for the White House to make an announcement on its decision as early as today, reports Elise Labott. [CNN]

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been found guilty on all 30 main counts relating to the 2013 bombings at the Boston Marathon, the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil since 9/11. The same jury will now decide whether Tsarnaev should receive life in prison or the death penalty, ostensibly the “more contentious phase of the trial,” reports Katharine Q. Seelye. [New York Times]

U.S. officials are responding to the “dramatic rise” in Russian cyberattacks; Shane Harris details American efforts including “outing the hackers.” [The Daily Beast]

A senior supervisor has been put on leave by the Secret Service and has had his security clearance suspended, following accusations by a female employee of sexual assault. [Washington Post’s Carol D. Leonnig and Keith L. Alexander]

U.S. military personnel sexually abused as many as 54 girls while stationed in Colombia between 2003 and 2007, says a report commissioned by the Colombian government and the FARC rebel group. No Americans have been prosecuted due to diplomatic immunity and bilateral agreements, according to the report. [The Daily Beast’s Chris Allbritton]

Analysts suggest that the broad objective of al-Shabaab’s attack strategy is to “win a macabre ‘beauty contest’—vying for recruits and attention against bigger and better funded movements like Islamic State,” writes Heidi Vogt. [Wall Street Journal]

A series of attacks in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula killed civilians and police officers yesterday, according to officials. [Al Jazeera]

There is new evidence of “execution-style killings” by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, Amnesty International has said.

The ICTY in The Hague has upheld a 2012 verdict against Zdravko Tolimir for his involvement in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, sentencing him to life in prison; Tolimir was a top commander of the Bosnian-Serb army. [Wall Street Journal’s Valentina Pop]

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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