News Roundup and Notes: June 5, 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

The House could be forced to vote on authorizing military force against ISIS, after a bipartisan group of three House lawmakers introduced a measure that would require a full debate within 15 days; the proposal was dismissed by GOP leaders. [Politico’s Bryan Bender] Earlier this week, the House Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment from Rep. Barbara Lee to the Pentagon’s 2016 spending bill, setting out Congress’ “constitutional duty” to debate an AUMF against ISIS. [Defense One’s Molly O’Toole]

An ISIS building was targeted by U.S. forces based on information in a social media post, an Air Force general said earlier this week. [Defense Tech’s Mike Hoffman]

Iraq has deployed 800 elite force fighters to Anbar province in an effort to reinforce the fight against the Islamic State. Meanwhile, ISIS fighters have blocked off a key dam to the north of Ramadi, cutting off water supply to pro-government towns. [CNN’s Hamdi Alkhshali and Laura Smith-Sparks]

Several Iraqi Sunni tribes and tribal chiefs have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Anbar province; it is unclear if the tribes had been forced into making their pledges. [Al Jazeera]

Restrictions imposed on Iraqi Sunnis escaping from Anbar province are worsening sectarian tensions in the country, reports Nour Malas. [Wall Street Journal]

President Obama will meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Monday to discuss the campaign to defeat the Islamic State, amid significant gains made by the militant group. [New York Times’ Julie Hirschfeld Davis]

“Urgent priorities” to counter the crisis in Syria are set out by former British foreign minister David Miliband at CNN, who notes that diplomatic efforts to end the war “have ebbed to their lowest levels so far.”

SURVEILLANCE, TECHNOLOGY, and PRIVACY

The DoJ secretly allowed the NSA to monitor Internet traffic related to foreign entities in 2012. Documents provided by Edward Snowden to the New York Times and ProPublica reveal the NSA used sweeping powers to forestall cyber threats originating overseas without a warrant, allegedly sweeping up data on Americans in the process.

A group of lawmakers sought to discredit Edward Snowden, according to declassified information received by Vice News’ Jason Leopold in response to a FOIA request. The documents also reveal that Snowden downloaded “over 900,000” DoD documents, more files than were taken from the NSA.

Edward Snowden discusses the shifting balance of power in the debate over government surveillance in an op-ed for the New York Times.

Chinese hackers were responsible for a cyber attack in December that breached the personal information of potentially 4 million current and former federal employees, according to U.S. officials. [Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima]

Legislators called for enhancement of American cyber defenses as information on Social Security and other “identifying information” appeared to be compromised, in what is the third major foreign cyber attack targeting a federal network system in the last year. [New York Times’ David E. Sanger and Julie Hirschfeld Davis] The Wall Street Journal’s Devlin Barrett et al discuss the security systems in place and other limited government efforts to protect data.

IRAN

Representatives from Israel and Saudi Arabia have held secret meetings to discuss Iran—the “historic enemies” uniting over shared concern over Tehran’s rising regional dominance. Bloomberg View’s Eli Lake reports.

Saudi Arabia appears to be “on the course for war” with Iran; former White House aide Gary Slick explores the dramatic consequences for the Middle East. [Politico Magazine]

The June 30 deadline for nuclear negotiations could be softened, as experts and American allies are calling on the administration to be flexible instead of making concessions under pressure to conclude a deal this month. [Politico’s Michael Crowley and Nahal Toosi]

Money received by Iran from sanctions relief under an emerging nuclear deal will be channeled into supporting terrorist proxies, including Hezbollah, according to the Wall Street Journal editorial board.

RUSSIA and UKRAINE

The Ukrainian president warned his military to prepare for a “full-scale invasion” by Russia, following intense fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels yesterday. [Reuters’ Richard Balmforth and Pavel Polityuck] The NATO secretary general also expressed concern, while Russian officials accused Ukraine of undermining an increasingly fragile ceasefire. [Telegraph’s Roland Olipihant]

The OSCE issued a report suggesting pro-separatists launched the most recent offensive. The UN Security Council is scheduled to hold an emergency meeting on the situation today. There are also reports that the Russian parliament will hold an extraordinary session in the near future. [The Guardian’s Shaun Walker]

The U.S. is considering sending missiles to Europe in light of Russia’s alleged violations of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty. Defense Secretary Ash Carter will discuss responses to Russian military action in Ukraine at a G-7 meeting this weekend, which Russia has not been invited to. [AP] 

YEMEN

The nephew of former President Saleh was dismissed from his military post after yesterday’s allegations by an ex-AQAP member that President Saleh supported the terrorist organization. [Al Jazeera]

The Houthis and the Yemeni government have agreed to attend peace talks in Geneva on 14 June. The announcement came following yesterday’s Saudi-led bombings which killed 58. [Reuters’ Mohamed Ghobari and Noah Browning] 

There are reports that the Houthis will withdraw militias from the Yemeni port city of Aden, pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 2216, following talks with the UN special envoy to Yemen. [Asharq Al-Awsat’s Arafat Madabish]

AFGHANISTAN

Informal talks between the Taliban and Afghan women and civil society members have been mediated in Norway. The 20-member delegation discussed the role of women in the peace process. [Khaama Press’ Mirwais Adeel]

Islamic State loyalists in Afghanistan have repeatedly attacked Taliban units in recent months. The group’s growing influence could “fundamentally change” the nature of the insurgency in the country, writes Joseph Goldstein. [New York Times]

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The Obama administration is planning to transfer 10 Guantanamo detainees this month, a senior defense official told Defense One, Molly O’Toole reports. Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers are edging closer to a showdown over shutting down the detention center; The Hill’s Jordain Carney provides more details.

Al-Qaeda offshoots such as Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are expanding in Syria and Yemen respectively. The Washington Post’s Hugh Naylor explores the implications for the region and U.S. national security.

Defense Secretary Carter signed the 2015 Framework for the U.S.-India Defense Relationship, which will strengthen U.S.-India maritime security through trade. The agreement comes following the U.S.’s protests of ongoing Chinese construction in the South China Sea. [Wall Street Journal’s Gordon Lubold]

The Middle East “is falling apart.” Philip Gordon comments on the chaos in the region, noting why American policy is not the source of the current crises and that the U.S. has “no good options” for tackling the situation. [Politico Magazine]

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is reenergizing her work to pass a military sexual assault reform bill, proposing an amendment to the annual defense bill. [The Hill’s Jordain Carney]

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About the Author(s)

Ruchi Parekh

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

Sarika Arya

Former Summer Fellow at Just Security Follow her on Twitter (@sarika_arya).