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 administration is planning to send a further 400 U.S. military trainers to Iraq and set up a new base in Anbar province, in a significant change in strategy aimed at reclaiming Ramadi from ISIS. The plan is yet to be announced by the White House, but Joint Chiefs chairman General Martin E. Dempsey made reference to it during his Israel visit yesterday. The campaign to retake Mosul will likely be delayed until 2016. [New York Times’ Michael R. Gordon]
A bipartisan proposal for an AUMF against ISIS was introduced by Sens. Tim Kaine and Jeff Flake on Tuesday. The proposal received “cautious praise” in the Senate, reports Nahal Toosi. [Politico]
A coalition of Syrian rebel fighters has seized a major army base in the southern province of Deraa in a further setback for the regime. [Al Jazeera] The group that claimed victory is one of the few moderate coalitions not dominated by extremist Islamists, reports Anne Barnard. [New York Times] While the Syrian regime is weakening, a clear winner is unlikely to emerge amid the numerous rebel factions and extremist groups, Lina Khatib tells NPR’s Robert Siegel.
ISIS fighters carried out attacks in Baghdad and the Libyan city of Surt yesterday, making advances despite the U.S.-led efforts to defeat the group in Iraq and Syria. [New York Times’ David D. Kirkpatrick and Kareem Fahim]
Iran-backed militias in Iraq are claiming that the U.S. is secretly targeting the Shia groups and have threatened revenge, highlighting the increasing complications in the battle against the Islamic State. [The Daily Beast’s Jacob Siegel]
Habbaniyah military base is being used as a staging ground for the Iraqi counteroffensive in Anbar province to recapture Ramadi. CNN’s Nick Paton Walsh and Hamdi Alkhshali report.
An Iraqi Kurdish minister warned that delayed oil payments from Baghdad would undermine the Kurdish battle against the Islamic State, amid a continuing dispute over the extent of payments owed. [Wall Street Journal’s Benoit Faucon]
Mosul under the Islamic State. A year after the northern Iraqi city fell to the terrorist organization, the Wall Street Journal’s Nour Malas reports on the transformation.
Displaced Iraqi Sunnis from Iraq’s north speak to Al Jazeera about the ISIS takeover in the region last year, causing thousands to flee, Megan O’Toole reports.
A Syrian undercover network is attempting to expose the Islamic State’s abuses through social media, reports Liz Sly. [Washington Post]
The Islamic State may be trying to raise money through Bitcoins, the cryptocurrency that allows for relatively high anonymity. [Washington Post’s Adam Taylor]
SURVEILLANCE, TECHNOLOGY, and PRIVACY
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals has called for new briefs in the ACLU lawsuit challenging the government’s bulk phone records collection, asking for additional arguments on how the USA Freedom Act affects the case.
The U.S. tech sector is likely to incur more than $35 billion in losses from foreign customers by 2016 owing to fears over government surveillance, according to a new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. [The Hill’s David McCabe]
China should face currency retaliation over the cyberattack that breached the records of four million federal employees, according to Sens. Charles Schumer and Lindsey Graham. [Financial Times’ Shawn Donnan] Politico’s Joseph Marks also reports on the growing GOP calls urging the administration to take stronger action against China, which has been blamed for the cyber breach by officials speaking anonymously.
An April cyberattack on a French television network could have been the work of Russia-based hackers, according to investigators; the attack involved ISIS jihadist propaganda being posted on the network’s website. [France 24]
Sens. John McCain and Dianne Feinstein have introduced an anti-torture amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, seeking to prevent the government from employing any interrogation methods not listed in the Army Field Manual. [The Hill’s Julian Hattem]
Democrats and Republicans remain divided over caps on defense spending. An amendment to the NDAA that would have put limits on the Defense Department’s war fund was blocked yesterday in the Senate. [The Hill’s Kristina Wong]
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is hoping to tie cybersecurity legislation to the NDAA, in an effort to prevent Democrats from blocking the defense bill and possibly countering the president’s threatened veto. [Politico’s Burgess Everett and Seung Min Kim]
ISRAEL and PALESTINE
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has called on Arab states to put pressure on Palestine to restart peace talks. [Reuters’ Dan Williams]
Israeli forces say they have killed a Hamas member in the West Bank who was preparing to attack with an explosive. [Haaretz’s Dan Williams and Ali Samoudi]
The Treasury Department’s blocking of the sale of Airbus jetliners to an Iranian airline targeted by American sanctions is creating friction with Iran. The New York Times’ Rick Gladstone discusses the implications of the move on other foreign airlines that deal with Iran, and the ongoing nuclear talks.
Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Dempsey attempted to ease Israeli concerns over a pending nuclear deal with Iran during a Jerusalem visit yesterday. [Reuters’ Phil Stewart]
The U.S. has reduced funding for a Lebanese civil society program that promotes Shi’ite political voices outside of Hezbollah, in a move critics say is meant to avoid confrontation with Iran in the build-up to a possible comprehensive nuclear deal. [Wall Street Journal’s Jay Solomon]
The Islamic State’s Egypt-affiliate fired rockets targeting a Sinai airport used by peacekeeping forces yesterday. [Reuters] Earlier today, a suicide bomber attacked the Temple of Karnak in the city of Luxor, a popular tourist destination; two further attackers have been shot dead, according to police. [BBC]
The State Department confirmed that no meeting would take place with visiting Muslim Brotherhood members, following Egypt’s summons of the American ambassador yesterday. [Reuters]
RUSSIA and UKRAINE
While most NATO citizens hold Russia accountable for the Ukraine conflict, not as many support the provision of military aid, a new Pew Research Center survey indicates. Politico’s Craig Winneker analyzes the results. The Washington Post’s Michael Birnbaum discusses the survey’s polling, including those of Russians and Ukrainians. The results point to the challenges facing the alliance and are likely to worry European countries seeking NATO protection from Russia, reports the New York Times’ Michael R. Gordon.
The U.S. is increasingly prosecuting foreign citizens on American soil, including suspected terrorists who had planned attacks abroad and had only a tenuous connection to the U.S., reports Stephanie Clifford. [New York Times]
An evolving al-Qaeda strategy has led the group to collaborate with local fighters in an attempt to hold on to power, with examples seen in both Yemen and Syria. [New York Times’ Ben Hubbard]
Many new Secret Service recruits have not completed the requisite security clearance; the recent push to recruit more officers comes after the string of security lapses at the White House. [Washington Post’s Carol D. Leonnig]
Journalists were briefly evacuated from the White House Press Room after a bomb threat yesterday, Secret Service officials acknowledged. [New York Times’ Julie Hirschfeld Davis]
A Green Beret was denied the Medal of Honor for his bravery in Afghanistan, after facing a criminal investigation for a separate incident that produced no charges, reports Dan Lamothe. [Washington Post]
Calls to consider the privatization of airport security are being made, after last week’s revelations of failures in TSA inspections. [The Hill’s Keith Laing]
U.S. prosecutors are seeking a “terrorism enhancement” in the case of Marcus Dwayne Robertson, who is awaiting sentencing for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and filing a fraudulent tax return, based on his collection of Islamic literature. The Intercept’s Murtaza Hussain reports.
China is once again calling for a political solution in Yemen, with the Chinese ambassador to the country expressing concern about the escalating conflict. [Reuters]
A UN proposal for a power-sharing government in Libya has been rejected by the country’s internationally recognized parliament, which has suspended its involvement in the talks. [Al Jazeera]
High tensions in South East Asia have led to increased sale of U.S. defense equipment, especially to countries seeking to protect themselves from China. [NPR’s Jackie Northam]
Sexual abuse by UN peacekeeping has been insufficiently addressed and is underreported, according to a draft UN report. [AP]
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