News Roundup and Notes: June 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

The U.S. does not “yet have a completed strategy” to defeat ISIS, President Obama acknowledged during the G7 summit yesterday. The president said plans to boost the training of Iraqi troops were being reviewed by the Pentagon, and would be announced when finalized. [ABC’s Arlette Saenz and Benjamin Siegel]  The crisis in Iraq and Syria was in the spotlight at the G7 gathering, where Obama also met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to discuss the battle against the Islamic State. [New York Times’ Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael D. Shear]

Training in one of five coalition sites in Iraq has stalled as Baghdad has failed to send new recruits to the western Al-Asad air base, American defense officials said. [The Hill’s Kristina Wong]

American officials have gained valuable intelligence on ISIS—including its organization, finances and security measures—through analyzing material uncovered during the special ops raid in Syria last month that killed a senior ISIS operative. New insight includes the much greater role being played by the wives of ISIS leaders than previously believed. [New York Times’ Eric Schmitt]

U.S.-led strikes continue. Coalition forces carried out seven airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria on Sunday. Separately, forces conducted 14 strikes targeting the group in Iraq. [U.S. Central Command]

Iraqi forces are making advances in efforts to maintain control of Beiji oil refinery and retake control of the nearby city from the Islamic State, according to Pentagon officials. [Wall Street Journal’s Julian E. Barnes]

Iranian officials are concerned about the Islamic State’s reach, with some fearing the organization could carry out attacks on Iranian soil, reports Abbas Qaidaari. [Al-Monitor]

The Islamic State could build a “dirty” bomb as the group is thought to have gathered radio­active material from hospitals and research centers in Iraq and Syria, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has told The Australian.

Mosul under the Islamic State. BBC reports on the dire conditions in the northern Iraqi city that fell to the Islamic State last June, based on exclusive video footage.

The “long campaign” to defeat ISIS. Erika Solomon and Sam Jones take an in-depth look at the group’s tactics and consider the ways to halt its advances. [Financial Times]

The Islamic State is selling antiquities from Syria and Iraq, raising millions of dollars through what has become an important source of revenue, according to experts and officials. [Washington Post’s Loveday Morris]

Abducting girls is a key tactic in ISIS’s recruitment of foreign fighters,  according to the UN envoy on sexual violence, who decried the group’s slave market. [AFP]

The Al Jazeera interview with Nusra Front leader al-Golani has triggered outrage among many in the Arab world, who criticized the news outlet for giving the terrorist organization a platform. [Asharq al-Awsat’s Waleed Abdul Rahman]

Former President Bush was wrong to attempt to “fashion a democracy in Iraq,” former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an interview with The Times, Melanie Phillips reports.

YEMEN

The family of two U.S drone strike victims has sued the American government in federal court. [Al Jazeera America’s Philip J. Victor]  Human rights advocates are hopeful that the lawsuit will force the U.S. to recognize the value of non-Western lives. [The Guardian’s Sabrina Siddiqui]

Yemeni President Hadi said the only agenda item for UN talks in Geneva will be the implementation of a Security Council resolution that demands Houthi withdrawal. For its part, the UN has stated much broader goals related to peace negotiations and humanitarian aid. [Al Jazeera]  Despite UN optimism, violence continued with Saudi-led air fire in Sana’a yesterday. [Reuters’ Omar Fahmy and Sami Aboudi]

RUSSIA and UKRAINE

The declaration of the G7 leaders raised the possibility of “further restrictive measures” should Moscow continue to fail to implement the Minsk peace agreements. [Wall Street Journal’s Colleen Mccain Nelson]  President Obama delivered strong criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin, while Moscow urged Western countries to also increase pressure on Ukraine to implement the peace agreements. [The Guardian’s Kate Connolly]

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk discusses his country’s territorial and existential war against Russia, in an op-ed for the Washington Post.

Russian President Putin has overseen the revision of history books and made declarations intended to positively elevate Russia’s past foreign policy, as part of the new battle with the West.  [Reuters’ Jason Bush]

ISRAEL and PALESTINE

The Supreme Court struck down legislation allowing U.S. passports to list Israel as the birthplace where children were born in Jerusalem, contrary to State Department practice. Instead, the court backed the president’s constitutional remit to recognize foreign sovereigns. [Wall Street Journal’s Jess Bravin]

The New York Times editorial board welcomes the ruling, noting the effect of the 2002 law in undermining the longstanding neutral position on the status of Jerusalem. The Economist also comments on the judgment, writing that it “affirmed the legislative role in foreign affairs” even as it granted significant leverage to the executive.

Israel has conducted a series of nuclear tests to assess the impact of a “dirty” radiological bomb, according to an exclusive Haaretz report from Chaim Levinson.

Both Israel and Hamas have been excluded from a UN list of groups and militaries that kill and main children during conflicts, owing to pressure from the U.S. and Israel, notwithstanding recommendations to the contrary, according to diplomats. [New York Times’ Somini Sengupta]

IRAN

Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Nayef discusses the Iran nuclear negotiations with The Telegraph’s Con Coughlin, suggesting the kingdom would pursue nuclear weapons development unless a “watertight” deal is concluded with Tehran.

CIA chief John Brennan has secretly met with Israeli officials, ahead of the emerging nuclear accord with Iran. [Haaretz’s Barak Rivid]

SURVEILLANCE, TECHNOLOGY, and PRIVACY

It is unclear how extensively the NSA transcribes Americans’ phone calls. The Intercept’s Dan Froomkin explores the various possibilities in a third piece in his series on the agency’s use of automated speech recognition technology.

American tech giants are urging the administration against adopting new policies that would undermine encryption technology designed to protect customers’ privacy. [Reuters’ Richard Cowan]

The Office of Personnel Management’s plan to notify employees whose personal information was breached in a cyberattack via email has proved controversial, reports Andrea Peterson. [Washington Post]

Federal Trade Commission chairwoman Edith Ramirez speaks to the Washington Post about her agency’s efforts to protect consumers’ privacy online.

OTHER DEVELOPMENTS

The FBI had carried out intensive surveillance on Samir Khan and his parents; Khan was subsequently killed in a drone strike in Yemen. Vice News’ Jason Leopold reports on the FBI’s “end-game” for the U.S. citizen, based on documents obtained under a FOIA request.

ISIS fighters have gained control of a power plant near the Libyan city of Sirte, driving out forces loyal to the self-declared government in the war-torn country. [Reuters]  The UN has proposed a coalition government to Libya’s rival sides attending talks in Morocco. [Reuters]

A Marine Corps lawyer is being appointed as the new chief defense counsel at Guantánamo’s war court. [Miami Herald’s Carol Rosenberg]

The U.S. ambassador in Cairo has been summoned reportedly owing to a Muslim Brotherhood visit to Washington. The State Department did not confirm the story or the pending meeting. [Reuters’ Arshad Mohammed]

Senator John McCain has attempted to reform the military, influence foreign policy, and make an impact on other Pentagon projects in his role as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The New York Times’ Jennifer Steinhauer provides further analysis. At Politico Magazine, Sen. McCain criticizes the president’s threatened veto over the NDAA and defense spending bills “for reasons totally unrelated to national security.”

Five things to know about the war fund. The Hill’s Kristina Wong reports on the Overseas Contingency Operation, which has seen increasing spending in the last ten years.

The rate of suicide among female veterans is six times higher than it is for civilian women, according to a new study by the Department of Veterans Affairs. [Los Angeles Times’ Alan Zarembo]

The loss of President Erdogan’s majority in the Turkish elections has created an atmosphere of political uncertainty in the country. [NBC’s Alastair Jamieson]  Meanwhile, the Turkish ambassador to Brazil has been recalled, after the Brazilian senate recognized past killings of Armenians in Turkey as genocide. [AP]

The “worst refugee crisis in generations.” The New York Times’ Patrick Boehler and Sergio Pecanha offer an overview of the global crisis, including in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and Afghanistan.

A new UN report documents widespread human rights atrocities committed in Eritrea, including torture, arbitrary detention and forced labor. [UN News Centre]

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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).