News Roundup and Notes: April 23, 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.

YEMEN

Saudi-led coalition airstrikes resumed yesterday despite announcing the end of Operation Decisive Storm. Coalition warplanes today struck Houthi targets in and around Aden and Ibb, including rebel tanks in villages close to Aden, according to residents. [Reuters]

The resumption of strikes reflects the limits of the Obama administration’s strategy in the Middle East, and the challenges posed in finding a political solution to the crisis. [New York Times’ Eric Schmitt and Michael R. Gordon]

Thousands of Houthi rebels and supporters took to the streets of Sana’a yesterday to protest the Saudi-led coalition air campaign. [Al Jazeera]  A Houthi spokesperson announced the group’s willingness to reengage with UN-sponsored peace talks, but “only after a complete halt of attacks.” [CNN’s Mohammed Tawfeeq et al]

Raw footage shows Saudi military forces firing mortars at apparent Houthi targets close to its frontier with Yemen on April 21. [Wall Street Journal]

Saudi Arabia has proved itself capable of sustaining nearly a month of intensive airstrikes in Yemen, demonstrating the kingdom’s capacity to use the billions of dollars worth of weapons it has purchased over the past decade, writes Yaroslav Trofimov. [Wall Street Journal]

Yemen faces a “serious long-term challenge” to “reconcile a gaping chasm between the antagonists” in the country’s ongoing conflict, as well as struggling with a humanitarian crisis caused by the Saudi air campaign over the past four weeks, write Mona Mahmood and Kareem Shaheen. [The Guardian]

“Yemen’s chaos is likely to continue,” writes The Economist, noting that “Saudi Arabia has so far made matters worse” by engaging in the conflict.

IRAQ and SYRIA

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi emphasized the importance of maintaining close ties with the U.S. at an event hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. [National Security Zone’s Ramsen Shamon]

Recent Pentagon data on the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS is “at best, misleading and incomplete.” A map showing territory where the coalition has succeeded in pushing back the Islamic State excludes information detailing coalition setbacks, where ISIS has in fact gained territory, reports Tim Mak. [The Daily Beast]

U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Syria have killed 2,079 people since they began last year, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. [Reuters]

GUANTANAMO BAY

The Pentagon is planning to resettle up to 10 Guantanamo detainees in June, in an effort to reduce the detention center’s population before Congress attempts to halt such transfers. The Pentagon is hopeful that 57 detainees who have been approved for transfer will be repatriated by the end of the year. [Washington Post’s Missy Ryan and Adam Goldman]

A Saudi detainee has requested resettlement during a Periodic Review Board hearing. Abdul Rahman Shalabi, who has been held captive since the prison opened, is Guantanamo’s longest-running hunger striker. [Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg]

SURVEILLANCE, PRIVACY and TECHNOLOGY

Niels Lesniewski previews the congressional battle over surveillance, ahead of the June 1 deadline when surveillance authority under Section 215 of the Patriot Act will lapse. [Roll Call]

The House has passed a cybersecurity bill, granting liability protection to companies sharing cyberthreat data with government civilian agencies—the first of three measures that must be adopted for a comprehensive cyber information-sharing law to be in place. [The Hill’s Cory Bennett and Cristina Marcos]

RUSSIA and UKRAINE

Russia has continued to deploy air defense systems in eastern Ukraine and has bolstered its forces close to the border, according to U.S. officials yesterday, an indication that the situation in Ukraine could escalate at any time. [New York Times’ Michael R. Gordon]

France is considering whether to reimburse Moscow for a $1.29 billion contract to supply Russia with two warships, the delivery of which has been suspended owing to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. [Wall Street Journal’s Stacy Meichtry]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

An “unusually candid” account of the administration’s internal battles over its Afghanistan strategy is offered by Richard C. Holbrooke’s audio diary, which details the former envoy’s disagreements with an administration that he viewed as too deferential to the military. [New York Times’ Matthew Rosenberg]

The U.S. and South Korea have signed a new nuclear-energy deal, a compromise pact that allows Seoul to carry out nuclear research but stops short of allowing it to process its own fuel. [Wall Street Journal’s Alastair Gale and Jeyup S. Kwaak]

An updated U.S. cyber strategy will emphasize the military’s ability to retaliate using cyber weapons; Defense Secretary Ash Carter is set to unveil the strategy today. [Reuters]

The cyber domain can improve the Air Force’s mission precision, giving it unparalleled control over the way it conducts its operations, said U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen Mark A. Walsh III yesterday. [National Security Zone’s Jennifer-Leigh Oprihory]

Hillary Clinton’s attorney has requested the House Benghazi panel to schedule the former secretary of state’s testimony “without delay,” just as committee chairman Trey Gowdy’s staff indicated that the investigation into the 2012 attacks is unlikely to conclude until 2016. [The Hill’s Martin Matishak]

DEA chief Michele Leonhart will retire next month in the wake of the prostitution scandal involving her agents who partied with sex workers in Colombia while in the country to prevent drug trafficking. [Foreign Policy‘s Siobhan O’Grady]

The Obama administration is taking steps to “mend the fences” with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, though an in-person meeting between Netanyahu and Obama will not take place until after the June 30 deadline for the nuclear deal with Iran. [New York Times‘ Julie Hirschfeld Davis]

The prosecution of David Petraeus is likely to backfire as the government’s lenient treatment of the former CIA director is creating an exploitable double standard in the treatment of leak cases, writes Kevin Maurer. [The Daily Beast]

Democrats have total control over the nearing Iran nuclear deal, according to Daniel Henninger, who argues that it “looks a lot like ObamaCare, with congressional Democrats once again doing a pass-it-to-find-out-what’s-in-it for another Obama legacy.” [Wall Street Journal]

French authorities have foiled five terror plots since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January, Prime Minister Manuel Valls has told France Inter radio, adding that the nation, “like other European countries, is facing a terror threat of an unprecedented nature and amplitude.” [France 24]

Heavy fighting flared in South Sudan’s northeastern town of Malakal yesterday, the latest round of violence in the country’s civil war which began in December 2013. [AFP]

A rally in Addis Ababa over the killing of Ethiopian Christians by ISIS in Libya involving tens of thousands of Ethiopian marchers turned violent yesterday, prompting a police crackdown. [Al Jazeera]

The North Korean nuclear threat is greater than previously estimated, according to Beijing’s latest evaluation which indicates that Pyongyang has the capacity to double its nuclear arsenal by next year. [Wall Street Journal’s Jeremy Page and Jay Solomon]

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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